Project Gutenberg's Prometheus Bound and Seven Against Thebes, by Aeschylus
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Title: Prometheus Bound and Seven Against Thebes
Translator: Theodore Alois Buckley
Release Date: December 8, 2008 [EBook #27458]
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SEVEN AGAINST THEBES.
WITH CRITICAL AND ILLUSTRATIVE NOTES,
THEODORE ALOIS BUCKLEY, B.A.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
EDWARD BROOKS, JR.
DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER,
610 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE.
Copyright, 1897, by DAVID MCKAY.
Æschylus, the first of the great Grecian writers of tragedy, was born at
Eleusis, in 525 B.C. He was the son of Euphorion, who was probably a
wealthy owner of rich vineyards. The poet's early employment was to
watch the grapes and protect them from the ravages of men and other
animals, and it is said that this occupation led to the development of
his dramatic genius. It is more easy to believe that it was responsible
for the development of certain other less admirable qualities of the
His first appearance as a tragic writer was in 499 B.C., and in 484 B.C.
he won a prize in the tragic contests. He took part in the battle of
Marathon, in 490 B.C., and also fought in the battle of Salamis, in 480
B.C. He visited Sicily twice, and probably spent some time in that
country, as the use of many Sicilian words in his later plays would
There is a curious story related as to his death, which took place at
Gela in 456 B.C. It is said that an eagle, mistaking his bald head for a
stone, dropped a tortoise upon it in order to break its shell, and that
the blow quite killed Æschylus. Too much reliance should not be placed
upon this story.
It is not known how many plays the poet wrote, but only seven have been
preserved to us. That these tragedies contain much that is undramatic is
undoubtedly true, but it must be remembered that at the time he wrote,
Æschylus found the drama in a very primitive state. The persons
represented consisted of but a single actor, who related some narrative
of mythological or legendary interest, and a chorus, who relieved the
monotony of such a performance by the interspersing of a few songs and
dances. To Æschylus belongs the credit of creating the dialogue in the
Greek drama by the introduction of a second actor.
In the following pages will be found a translation of two of the poet's
greatest compositions, viz., the "Prometheus Chained" and the "Seven
Against Thebes." The first of these dramas has been designated "The
sublimest poem and simplest tragedy of antiquity," and the second, while
probably an earlier work and containing much that is undramatic,
presents such a splendid spectacle of true Grecian chivalry that it has
been regarded as the equal of anything which the author ever attempted.
The characters represented in the "Prometheus" are Strength, Force,
Vulcan, Prometheus, Io, daughter of Inachus, Ocean and Mercury. The play
opens with the appearance of Prometheus in company with Strength, Force
and Vulcan, who have been bidden to bind Prometheus with adamantine
fetters to the lofty cragged rocks of an untrodden Scythian desert,
because he has offended Jupiter by stealing fire from heaven and
bestowing it upon mortals.
Vulcan is loth to obey the mandates of Jove, but urged on by Strength
and Force and the fear of the consequences which disobedience will
entail, with mighty force drives the wedges into the adamantine rocks
and rivets the captive with galling shackles to the ruthless crags.
Prometheus, being bound and left alone, bemoans his fate and relates to
the chorus of nymphs the base ingratitude of Jove, who through his
counsels having overwhelmed the aged Saturn beneath the murky abyss of
Tartarus, now rewards his ally with indignities because he had
compassion upon mortals.
Ocean then comes to Prometheus, offering sympathy and counsel, urging
him not to utter words thus harsh and whetted, lest Jupiter seated far
aloft may hear them and inflict upon him added woes to which his present
sufferings will seem but child's play.
Ocean having taken his departure, Prometheus again complains to the
chorus and enumerates the boons which he has bestowed upon mankind, with
the comment that though he has discovered such inventions for mortals,
he has no device whereby he may escape from his present misfortune.
Io, daughter of Inachus, beloved by Jove, but forced, through the
jealous hatred of Juno, to make many wanderings, then appears, and
beseeches Prometheus to discover to her what time shall be the limit of
her sufferings. Prometheus accedes to her request and relates how she
shall wander over many lands and seas until she reaches the city of
Canopus, at the mouth of the Nile, where she shall bring forth a
Jove-begotten child, from whose seed shall finally spring a dauntless
warrior renowned in archery, who will liberate Prometheus from his
captivity and accomplish the downfall of Jove.
Io then resumes her wanderings, and Mercury, sent by Jove, comes to
question Prometheus as to the nuptials which he has boasted will
accomplish the overthrow of the ruler of the Gods. Him Prometheus
reviles with opprobrious epithets, calling him a lackey of the Gods, and
refuses to disclose anything concerning the matter on which he questions
him. The winged God, replying, threatens him with dire calamities. A
tempest will come upon him and overwhelm him with thunderbolts, and a
bloodthirsting eagle shall feed upon his liver. Thus saying, he departs,
and immediately the earth commences to heave, the noise of thunder is
heard, vivid streaks of lightning blaze throughout the sky and a
hurricane--the onslaught of Jove--sweeps Prometheus away in its blast.
The "Seven against Thebes" includes in its cast of characters Eteocles,
King of Thebes, Antigone and Ismene, Sisters of the King, a Messenger
and a Herald. The play opens with the siege of Thebes. Eteocles appears
upon the Acropolis in the early morning, and exhorts the citizens to be
brave and be not over-dismayed at the rabble of alien besiegers. A
messenger arrives and announces the rapid approach of the Argives.
Eteocles goes to see that the battlements and the gates are properly
manned, and during his absence the chorus of Theban maidens set up a
great wail of distress and burst forth with violent lamentations.
Eteocles, returning, upbraids them severely for their weakness and bids
them begone and raise the sacred auspicious shout of the pæan as an
encouragement to the Theban warriors. He then departs to prepare himself
and six others to meet in combat the seven chieftains who have come
against the city.
He soon re-enters, and at the same time comes the messenger from another
part of the city with fresh tidings of the foe and the arrangement of
the invaders around the walls of the city. By the gate of Proetus
stands the raging Tydeus with his helm of hairy crests and his buckler
tricked out with a full moon and a gleaming sky full of stars, against
whom Eteocles will marshal the wary son of Astacus, a noble and a modest
youth, who detests vain boastings and yet is not a coward.
By the Electron gate is stationed the giant Campaneus, who bears about
him the device of a naked man with a gleaming torch in his hands, crying
out "I will burn the city." Against him will be pitted the doughty
Polyphontes, favored by Diana and other gods.
Against the gate of Neis the mighty Eteoclus is wheeling his foaming
steeds, bearing a buckler blazoned with a man in armor treading the
steps of a ladder to his foeman's tower. Megareus, the offspring of
Creon, is the valiant warrior who will either pay the debt of his
nurture to his land or will decorate his father's house with the spoils
of the conquered Eteoclus.
The fiery Hippomedon is raging at the gate of Onca Minerva, bearing upon
his buckler a Typhon darting forth smoke through his fire-breathing
mouth, eager to meet the brave Hyperbius, son of OEnops, who has been
selected to check his impetuous onslaught.
At the gate of Boreas the youthful Parthenopæus takes his stand, a
fair-faced stripling, upon whose face the youthful down is just making
its appearance. Opposed to him stands Actor, a man who is no braggart,
but who will not submit to boastful tauntings or permit the rash
intruder to batter his way into the city.
The mighty Amphiarus is waiting at the gate of Homolöis, and in the
meantime reproaches his ally, Tydeus, calling him a homicide, and
Polynices he rebukes with having brought a mighty armament into his
native city. Lasthenes, he of the aged mind but youthful form, is the
Thebian who has been chosen to marshal his forces against this invader.
At the seventh gate stands Polynices, brother of Eteocles, bearing a
well-wrought shield with a device constructed upon it of a woman leading
on a mailed warrior, bringing havoc to his paternal city and desirous of
becoming a fratricide. Against him Eteocles will go and face him in
person, and leader against leader, brother against brother and foeman
against foeman, take his stand.
Eteocles then departs to engage in battle, and soon after the messenger
enters to announce that six of the Theban warriors have been successful,
but that Polynices and Eteocles have both fallen, slain by each other's
Antigone and Ismene then enter, each bewailing the death of their
brothers. A herald interrupts them in the midst of their lamentations to
announce to them the decree of the senate, which is that Eteocles, on
account of his attachment to his country, though a fratricide, shall be
honored with fitting funeral rites, but that Polynices, the would-be
overturner of his native city, shall be cast out unburied, a prey to the
Against this decree Antigone rebels, and with her final words announces
her unalterable intention of burying her brother in spite of the fate
which awaits her disobedience to the will of the senate.
Prometheus having, by his attention to the wants of men,
provoked the anger of Jove, is bound down in a cleft of a
rock in a distant desert of Scythia. Here he not only
relates the wanderings, but foretells the future lot of
Io, and likewise alludes to the fall of Jove's dynasty.
Disdaining to explain his meaning to Mercury, he is swept
into the abyss amid terrific hurricane and earthquake.
CHORUS OF NYMPHS, DAUGHTERS OF OCEAN.
IO, DAUGHTER OF INACHUS.
STRENGTH, FORCE, VULCAN, PROMETHEUS.
STRENGTH. We are come to a plain, the distant boundary of the earth,
to the Scythian track, to an untrodden desert. Vulcan, it behooves
thee that the mandates, which thy Sire imposed, be thy concern--to bind
this daring wretch to the lofty-cragged rocks, in fetters of
adamantine chains that can not be broken; for he stole and gave to
mortals thy honor, the brilliancy of fire [that aids] all arts. Hence
for such a trespass he must needs give retribution to the gods, that he
may be taught to submit to the sovereignty of Jupiter, and to cease from
his philanthropic disposition.
VULCAN. Strength and Force, as far as you are concerned, the mandate of
Jupiter has now its consummation, and there is no farther obstacle.
But I have not the courage to bind perforce a kindred god to this
weather-beaten ravine. Yet in every way it is necessary for me to take
courage for this task; for a dreadful thing it is to disregard the
directions of the Sire. Lofty-scheming son of right-counseling
Themis, unwilling shall I rivet thee unwilling in indissoluble shackles
to this solitary rock, where nor voice nor form of any one of mortals
shalt thou see; but slowly scorched by the bright blaze of the sun
thou shalt lose the bloom of thy complexion; and to thee joyous shall
night in spangled robe veil the light; and the sun again disperse the
hoar-frost of the morn; and evermore shall the pain of the present evil
waste thee; for no one yet born shall release thee. Such fruits hast
thou reaped from thy friendly disposition to mankind. For thou, a god,
not crouching beneath the wrath of the gods, hast imparted to mortals
honors beyond what was right. In requital whereof thou shalt keep
sentinel on this cheerless rock, standing erect, sleepless, not bending
a knee: and many laments and unavailing groans shalt thou utter; for
the heart of Jupiter is hard to be entreated; and every one that has
newly-acquired power is stern.
ST. Well, well! Why art thou delaying and vainly commiserating? Why
loathest thou not the god that is most hateful to the gods, who has
betrayed thy prerogative to mortals?
VUL. Relationship and intimacy are of great power.
ST. I grant it--but how is it possible to disobey the Sire's word?
Dreadest thou not this the rather?
VUL. Ay truly thou art ever pitiless and full of boldness.
ST. For to deplore this wretch is no cure [for him]. But concern not
thou thyself vainly with matters that are of no advantage.
VUL. O much detested handicraft!
ST. Wherefore loathest thou it! for with the ills now present thy craft
in good truth is not at all chargeable.
VUL. For all that, I would that some other had obtained this.
ST. Every thing has been achieved except for the gods to rule; for no
one is free save Jupiter.
VUL. I know it--and I have nothing to say against it.
ST. Wilt thou not then bestir thyself to cast fetters about this wretch,
that the Sire may not espy thee loitering?
VUL. Ay, and in truth you may see the manacles ready.
ST. Take them, and with mighty force clench them with the mallet about
his hands: rivet him close to the crags.
VUL. This work of ours is speeding to its consummation and loiters not.
ST. Smite harder, tighten, slacken at no point, for he hath cunning to
find outlets even from impracticable difficulties.
VUL. This arm at all events is fastened inextricably.
ST. And now clasp this securely, that he may perceive himself to be a
duller contriver than Jupiter.
VUL. Save this [sufferer], no one could with reason find fault with me.
ST. Now by main force rivet the ruthless fang of an adamantine wedge
right through his breast.
VUL. Alas! alas! Prometheus, I sigh over thy sufferings.
ST. Again thou art hanging back, and sighest thou over the enemies of
Jupiter? Look to it, that thou hast not at some time to mourn for
VUL. Thou beholdest a spectacle ill-sighted to the eye.
ST. I behold this wretch receiving his deserts. But fling thou these
girths round his sides.
VUL. I must needs do this; urge me not very much.
ST. Ay, but I will urge thee, and set thee on too. Move downward, and
strongly link his legs.
VUL. And in truth the task is done with no long toil.
ST. With main force now smite the galling fetters, since stern indeed is
the inspector of this work.
VUL. Thy tongue sounds in accordance with thy form.
ST. Yield thou to softness, but taunt not me with ruthlessness and
harshness of temper.
VUL. Let us go; since he hath the shackles about his limbs.
ST. There now be insolent; and after pillaging the prerogatives of the
gods, confer them on creatures of a day. In what will mortals be able to
alleviate these agonies of thine? By no true title do the divinities
call thee Prometheus; for thou thyself hast need of a Prometheus, by
means of which you will slip out of this fate.
[_Exeunt_ STRENGTH _and_ FORCE.
PROMETHEUS. O divine æther, and ye swift-winged breezes, and ye
fountains of rivers, and countless dimpling of the waves of the
deep, and thou earth, mother of all--and to the all-seeing orb of the
Sun I appeal; look upon me, what treatment I, a god, am enduring at the
hand of the gods! Behold with what indignities mangled I shall have to
wrestle through time of years innumerable. Such an ignominious bondage
hath the new ruler of the immortals devised against me. Alas! alas! I
sigh over the present suffering, and that which is coming on. How, where
must a termination of these toils arise? And yet what is it I am saying?
I know beforehand all futurity exactly, and no suffering will come upon
me unlooked-for. But I needs must bear my doom as easily as may be,
knowing as I do, that the might of Necessity can not be resisted.
But yet it is not possible for me either to hold my peace, or not to
hold my peace touching these my fortunes. For having bestowed boons upon
mortals, I am enthralled unhappy in these hardships. And I am he that
searched out the source of fire, by stealth borne-off inclosed in a
fennel-rod, which has shown itself a teacher of every art to
mortals, and a great resource. Such then as this is the vengeance that I
endure for my trespasses, being riveted in fetters beneath the naked
Hah! what sound, what ineffable odor hath been wafted to me,
emanating from a god, or from mortal, or of some intermediate nature?
Has there come anyone to the remote rock as a spectator of my
sufferings, or with what intent! Behold me an ill-fated god in
durance, the foe of Jupiter, him that hath incurred the detestation of
all the gods who frequent the court of Jupiter, by reason of my
excessive friendliness to mortals. Alas! alas! what can this hasty
motion of birds be which I again hear hard by me? The air too is
whistling faintly with the whirrings of pinions. Every thing that
approaches is to me an object of dread.
CHORUS. Dread thou nothing; for this is a friendly band that has come
with the fleet rivalry of their pinions to this rock, after prevailing
with difficulty on the mind of our father. And the swiftly-wafting
breezes escorted me; for the echo of the clang of steel pierced to the
recess of our grots, and banished my demure-looking reserve; and I sped
without my sandals in my winged chariot.
PR. Alas! alas! ye offspring of prolific Thetys, and daughters of Ocean
your sire, who rolls around the whole earth in his unslumbering stream;
look upon me, see clasped in what bonds I shall keep an unenviable watch
on the topmost crags of this ravine.
CH. I see, Prometheus: and a fearful mist full of tears darts over mine
eyes, as I looked on thy frame withering on the rocks in these
galling adamantine fetters: for new pilots are the masters of Olympus;
and Jove, contrary to right, lords it with new laws, and things
aforetime had in reverence he is obliterating.
PR. Oh would that he had sent me beneath the earth, and below into the
boundless Tartarus of Hades that receives the dead, after savagely
securing me in indissoluble bonds, so that no god at any time, nor any
other being, had exulted in this my doom. Whereas now, hapless one, I,
the sport of the winds, suffer pangs that gladden my foes.
CH. Who of the gods is so hard-hearted as that these things should be
grateful to him? Who is there that sympathizes not with thy sufferings,
Jove excepted? He, indeed, in his wrath, assuming an inflexible temper,
is evermore oppressing the celestial race! nor will he cease before that
either he shall have sated his heart, or some one by some stratagem
shall have seized upon his sovereignity that will be no easy prize.
PR. In truth hereafter the president of the immortals shall have
need of me, albeit that I am ignominiously suffering in stubborn
shackles, to discover to him the new plot by which he is to be despoiled
of his sceptre and his honors. But neither shall he win me by the
honey-tongued charms of persuasion; nor will I at any time, crouching
beneath his stern threats, divulge this matter, before he shall have
released me from my cruel bonds, and shall be willing to yield me
retribution for this outrage.
CH. Thou indeed both art bold, and yieldest nought to thy bitter
calamities, but art over free in thy language. But piercing terror is
worrying my soul; for I fear for thy fortunes. How, when will it be thy
destiny to make the haven and see the end of these thy sufferings? for
the son of Saturn has manners that supplication cannot reach, and an
PR. I know that Jupiter is harsh, and keeps justice to himself; but for
all that he shall hereafter be softened in purpose, when he shall be
crushed in this way; and, after calming his unyielding temper with
eagerness will he hereafter come into league and friendship with me that
will eagerly [welcome him].
CH. Unfold and speak out to us the whole story, from what accusation has
Jupiter seized thee, and is thus disgracefully and bitterly tormenting
thee. Inform us, if thou be in no respect hurt by the recital.
PR. Painful indeed are these things for me to tell, and painful too for
me to hold my peace, and in every way grievous. As soon as the
divinities began discord, and a feud was stirred up among them with one
another--one party wishing to eject Saturn from his throne, in
order forsooth that Jupiter might be king, and others expediting the
reverse, that Jupiter might at no time rule over the gods: then I, when
I gave the best advice, was not able to prevail upon the Titans,
children of Uranus and Terra; but they, contemning in their stout
spirits wily schemes, fancied that without any trouble, and by dint of
main force, they were to win the sovereignty. But it was not once only
that my mother Themis, and Terra, a single person with many titles, had
forewarned me of the way in which the future would be accomplished; how
it was destined, that, not by main force, nor by the strong hand, but by
craft the victors should prevail. When, however, I explained such points
in discourse, they deigned not to pay me any regard at all. Of the plans
which then presented themselves to me, the best appeared that I should
take my mother and promptly side with Jupiter, who was right willing [to
receive us]. And 'tis by means of my counsels that the murky abyss of
Tartarus overwhelms the antique Saturn, allies and all. After thus being
assisted by me, the tyrant of the gods hath recompensed me with this
foul recompense. For somehow this malady attaches to tyranny, not to put
confidence in its friends. But for your inquiries upon what charge is it
that he outrages me, this I will make clear. As soon as he has
established himself on his father's throne, he assigns forthwith to the
different divinities each his honors, and he was marshaling in order his
empire; but of woe-begone mortals he made no account, but wished, after
having annihilated the entire race, to plant another new one. And these
schemes no one opposed except myself: But I dared: I ransomed mortals
from being utterly destroyed, and going down to Hades. 'Tis for this, in
truth, that I am bent by sufferings such as these, agonizing to endure,
and piteous to look upon. I that had compassion for mortals, have myself
been deemed unworthy to obtain this, but mercilessly am thus coerced to
order, a spectacle inglorious to Jupiter.
CH. Iron-hearted and formed of rock too, Prometheus, is he, who condoles
not with thy toils: for I could have wished never to have beheld them,
and now, when I behold them, I am pained in my heart.
PR. Ay, in very deed I am a piteous object for friends to behold.
CH. And didst thou chance to advance even beyond this?
PR. Yes! I prevented mortals from foreseeing their doom.
CH. By finding what remedy for this malady?
PR. I caused blind hopes to dwell within them.
CH. In this thou gavest a mighty benefit to mortals.
PR. Over and above these boons, however, I imparted fire to them.
CH. And do the creatures of a day now possess bright fire?
PR. Yes--from which they will moreover learn thoroughly many arts.
CH. Is it indeed on charges such as these that Jupiter is both visiting
thee with indignities, and in no wise grants thee a respite from thy
pains? And is no period to thy toils set before thee?
PR. None other assuredly, but when it may please him.
CH. And how shall it be his good pleasure? What hope is there? Seest
thou not that thou didst err? but how thou didst err, I can not relate
with pleasure, and it would be a pain to you. But let us leave these
points, and search thou for some escape from thine agony.
PR. 'Tis easy, for any one that hath his foot unentangled by sufferings,
both to exhort and to admonish him that is in evil plight. But I knew
all these things willingly, willingly I erred, I will not gainsay it;
and in doing service to mortals I brought upon myself sufferings. Yet
not at all did I imagine, that, in such a punishment as this, I was to
wither away upon lofty rocks, meeting with this desolate solitary crag.
And yet wail ye not over my present sorrows, but after alighting on the
ground, list ye to the fortune that is coming on, that ye may learn the
whole throughout. Yield to me, yield ye, take ye a share in the woes of
him that is now suffering. Hence in the same way doth calamity, roaming
to and fro, settle down on different individuals.
CH. Upon those who are nothing loth hast thou urged this, Prometheus:
and now having with light step quitted my rapidly-wafted chariot-seat,
and the pure æther, highway of the feathered race, I will draw near to
this rugged ground: and I long to hear the whole tale of thy sufferings.
I am arrived at the end of a long journey, having passed over [it]
to thee, Prometheus, guiding this winged steed of mine, swift of pinion,
by my will, without a bit; and, rest assured, I sorrow with thy
misfortunes. For both the tie of kindred thus constrains me, and,
relationship apart, there is no one on whom I would bestow a larger
share [of my regard] than to thyself. And thou shalt know that these
words are sincere, and that it is not in me vainly to do lip-service;
for come, signify to me in what it is necessary for me to assist thee;
for at no time shalt thou say that thou hast a stancher friend than
PR. Hah! what means this? and hast thou too come to be a witness of my
pangs? How hast thou ventured, after quitting both the stream that bears
thy name, and the rock-roofed self-wrought grots, to come into the
iron teeming land? Is it that you may contemplate my misfortunes, and as
sympathizing with my woes that thou hast come? Behold a spectacle, me
here the friend of Jupiter, that helped to establish his sovereignty,
with what pains I am bent by him.
OC. I see, Prometheus, and to thee, subtle as thou art, I wish to give
the best counsel. Know thyself, and assume to thyself new manners; for
among the gods too there is a new monarch. But if thou wilt utter words
thus harsh and whetted, Jupiter mayhap, though seated far aloft, will
hear thee, so that the present bitterness of sufferings will seem to
thee to be child's play. But, O hapless one! dismiss the passion which
thou feelest, and search for a deliverance from these sufferings of
thine. Old-fashioned maxims these, it may be, I appear to thee to utter;
yet such becomes the wages of the tongue that talks too proudly. But not
even yet art thou humble, nor submittest to ills; and in addition to
those that already beset thee, thou art willing to bring others upon
thee. Yet not, if at least thou takest me for thy instructor, wilt thou
stretch out thy leg against the pricks; as thou seest that a harsh
monarch, and one that is not subject to control, is lording it. And now
I for my part will go, and will essay, if I be able, to disinthrall thee
from these thy pangs. But be thou still, nor be over impetuous in thy
language. What! knowest thou not exactly, extremely intelligent as thou
art, that punishment is inflicted on a froward tongue?
PR. I give thee joy, because that thou hast escaped censure, after
taking part in and venturing along with me in all things. And now leave
him alone, and let it not concern thee. For in no wise wilt thou
persuade him; for he is not open to persuasion. And look thou well to it
that thou take not harm thyself by the journey.
OC. Thou art far better calculated by nature to instruct thy neighbors
than thyself: I draw my conclusion from fact, and not from word. But
think not for a moment to divert me from the attempt. For I am
confident, yea, I am confident, that Jupiter will grant me this boon, so
as to release thee from these pangs of thine.
PR. In part I commend thee, and will by no means at any time cease to do
so. For in zeal to serve me thou lackest nothing. But trouble thyself
not; for in vain, without being of any service to me, wilt thou
labor, if in any respect thou art willing to labor. But hold thou thy
peace, and keep thyself out of harm's way; for I, though I be in
misfortune, would not on this account be willing that sufferings should
befall as many as possible. No, indeed, since also the disasters of my
brother Atlas gall my heart, who is stationed in the western regions,
sustaining on his shoulders the pillar of heaven and of earth, a burden
not of easy grasp. I commiserated too when I beheld the earth-born
inmate of the Cilician caverns, a tremendous prodigy, the hundred-headed
impetuous Typhon, overpowered by force, who withstood all the gods,
hissing slaughter from his hungry jaws; and from his eyes there flashed
a hideous glare, as though he would perforce overthrow the sovereignty
of Jove. But the sleepless shaft of Jupiter came upon him, the
descending thunderbolt breathing forth flame, which scared him out of
his presumptuous bravadoes; for having been smitten to his very soul he
was crumbled to a cinder, and thunder-blasted in his prowess. And now, a
helpless and paralyzed form is he lying hard by a narrow frith, pressed
down beneath the roots of Ætna. And, seated on the topmost peaks,
Vulcan forges the molten masses, whence there shall one day burst forth
floods devouring with fell jaws the level fields of fruitful Sicily:
with rage such as this shall Typhon boil over in hot artillery of a
never-glutted fire-breathing storm; albeit he hath been reduced to ashes
by the thunder-bolt of Jupiter. But thou art no novice, nor needest thou
me for thine instructor. Save thyself as best thou knowest how; but I
will exhaust my present fate until such time as the spirit of Jupiter
shall abate its wrath.
OC. Knowest thou not this then, Prometheus, that words are the
physicians of a distempered feeling?
PR. True, if one seasonably soften down the heart, and do not with rude
violence reduce a swelling spirit.
OC. Ay, but in foresight along with boldness what mischief is there
that thou seest to be inherent? inform me.
PR. Superfluous trouble and trifling folly.
OC. Suffer me to sicken in this said sickness, since 'tis of the highest
advantage for one that is wise not to seem to be wise.
PR. (Not so, for) this trespass will seem to be mine.
OC. Thy language is plainly sending me back to my home.
PR. Lest thy lamentation over me bring thee into ill-will.
OC. What with him who hath lately seated himself on the throne that
ruleth over all?
PR. Beware of him lest at any time his heart be moved to wrath.
OC. Thy disaster, Prometheus, is my monitor.
PR. Away! withdraw thee, keep thy present determination.
OC. On me, hastening to start, hast thou urged this injunction; for my
winged quadruped flaps with his pinions the smooth track of æther; and
blithely would he recline his limbs in his stalls at home.
CH. I bewail thee for thy lost fate, Prometheus. A flood of trickling
tears from my yielding eyes has bedewed my cheek with its humid
gushings; for Jupiter commanding this thine unenviable doom by laws of
his own, displays his spear appearing superior o'er the gods of old.
And now the whole land echoes with wailing--they wail thy stately and
time-graced honors, and those of thy brethren; and all they of mortal
race that occupy a dwelling neighboring on hallowed Asia mourn with
thy deeply-deplorable sufferings: the virgins that dwell in the land of
Colchis too, fearless of the fight, and the Scythian horde who possess
the most remote regions of earth around lake Mæotis; and the war-like
flower of Arabia, who occupy a fortress on the craggy heights in
the neighborhood of Caucasus, a warrior-host, clamoring amid
One other god only, indeed, have I heretofore beheld in miseries, the
Titan Atlas, subdued by the galling of adamantine bonds, who
evermore in his back is groaning beneath the excessive mighty mass
of the pole of heaven. And the billow of the deep roars as it falls in
cadence, the depth moans, and the murky vault of Hades rumbles beneath
the earth, and the fountains of the pure streaming rivers wail for his
PR. Do not, I pray you, suppose that I am holding my peace from pride or
self-will; but by reflection am I gnawed to the heart, seeing myself
thus ignominiously entreated. And yet who but myself defined
completely the prerogative for these same new gods? But on these matters
I say nothing, for I should speak to you already acquainted with these
things. But for the misfortunes that existed among mortals, hear how I
made them, that aforetime lived as infants, rational and possessed of
intellect. And I will tell you, having no complaint against
mankind, as detailing the kindness of the boons which I bestowed upon
them: they who at first seeing saw in vain, hearing they heard not. But,
like to the forms of dreams, for a long time they used to huddle
together all things at random, and naught knew they about
brick-built and sun-ward houses, nor carpentry; but they dwelt in
the excavated earth like tiny emmets in the sunless depths of caverns.
And they had no sure sign either of winter, or of flowery spring, or of
fruitful summer; but they used to do every thing without judgment, until
indeed I showed to them the risings of the stars and their settings,
hard to be discerned.
And verily I discover for them Numbers, the surpassing all
inventions, the combinations too of letters, and Memory, effective
mother-nurse of all arts. I also first bound with yokes beasts
submissive to the collars; and in order that with their bodies they
might become to mortals substitutes for their severest toils, I brought
steeds under cars obedient to the rein, a glory to pompous luxury.
And none other than I invented the canvas-winged chariots of mariners
that roam over the ocean. After discovering for mortals such inventions,
wretch that I am, I myself have no device whereby I may escape from my
CH. Thou hast suffered unseemly ills, baulked in thy discretion thou art
erring; and like a bad physician, having fallen into a distemper thou
art faint-hearted, and, in reference to thyself, thou canst not discover
by what manner of medicines thou mayest be cured.
PR. When thou hearest the rest of my tale, thou wilt wonder still more
what arts and resources I contrived. For the greatest--if that any one
fell into a distemper, there was no remedy, neither in the way of diet,
nor of liniment, nor of potion, but for lack of medicines they used to
pine away to skeletons, before that I pointed out to them the
composition of mild remedies, wherewith they ward off all their
maladies. Many modes too of the divining art did I classify, and was the
first that discriminated among dreams those which are destined to be a
true vision; obscure vocal omens too I made known to them; tokens
also incidental on the road, and the flight of birds of crooked talons I
clearly defined, both those that are in their nature auspicious, and the
ill-omened, and what the kind of life that each leads, and what are
their feuds and endearments and intercourse one with another: the
smoothness too of the entrails, and what hue they must have to be
acceptable to the gods, the various happy formations of the gall and
liver, and the limbs enveloped in fat: and having roasted the long chine
I pointed out to mortals the way into an abstruse art; and I brought to
light the fiery symbols that were aforetime wrapt in darkness. Such
indeed were these boons; and the gains to mankind that were hidden under
ground, brass, iron, silver, and gold--who could assert that he had
discovered before me? No one, I well know, who does not mean to idly
babble. And in one brief sentence learn the whole at once--All arts
among the human race are from Prometheus.
CH. Do not now serve the human race beyond what is profitable, nor
disregard thyself in thy distress: since I have good hopes that thou
shalt yet be liberated from these shackles, and be not one whit less
powerful than Jove.
PR. Not at all in this way is Fate, that brings events to their
consummation ordained to accomplish these things: but after having been
bent by countless sufferings and calamities, thus am I to escape from my
shackles. And art is far less powerful than necessity.
CH. Who then is the pilot of necessity?
PR. The triform Fates and the remembering Furies.
CH. Is Jupiter then less powerful than these?
PR. Most certainly he can not at any rate escape his doom.
CH. Why, what is doomed for Jupiter but to reign for evermore?
PR. This thou mayest not yet learn, and do not press it.
CH. 'Tis surely some solemn mystery that thou veilest.
PR. Make mention of some other matter; it is by no means seasonable to
proclaim this; but it must be shrouded in deepest concealment; for it is
by keeping this secret that I am to escape from my ignominious shackles
CH. Never may Jupiter, who directs all things, set his might in
opposition to my purpose: nor may I be backward in attending upon the
gods at their hallowed banquets, at which oxen are sacrificed, beside
the restless stream of my sire Ocean; and may I not trespass in my
words; but may this feeling abide by me and never melt away. Sweet it is
to pass through a long life in confident hopes, making the spirits swell
with bright merriment; but I shudder as I behold thee harrowed by
agonies incalculable.... For not standing in awe of Jupiter, thou,
Prometheus, in thy self-will honorest mortals to excess. Come, my
friend, own how boonless was the boon; say where is any aid? What relief
can come from the creatures of a day? Sawest thou not the powerless
weakness, nought better than a dream, in which the blind race of men is
entangled? Never shall at any time the schemes of mortals evade the
harmonious system of Jupiter. This I learned by witnessing thy
destructive fate, Prometheus. And far different is this strain that now
flits toward me from the hymenæal chant which I raised around the baths
and thy couch with the consent of nuptials, when, after having won
Hesione with thy love-tokens, thou didst conduct her our sister to be
thy bride, the sharer of thy bed.
What land is this? what race? whom shall I say I here behold
storm-tossed in rocky fetters? Of what trespass is the retribution
destroying thee? Declare to me into what part of earth I forlorn have
roamed. Ah me! alas! alas! again the hornet stings me miserable: O
earth avert the goblin of earth-born Argus: I am terrified at
the sight of the neatherd of thousand eyes, for he is journeying on,
keeping a cunning glance, whom not even after death does earth conceal;
but issuing forth from among the departed he chases me miserable, and he
makes me to wander famished along the shingled strand, while the
sounding wax-compacted pipe drones on a sleepy strain. Oh! oh! ye
powers! Oh! powers! whither do my far-roaming wanderings convey me? In
what, in what, O son of Saturn, hast thou, having found me
transgressing, shackled me in these pangs? Ah! ah! and art thus wearing
out a timorous wretch frenzied with sting-driven fear. Burn me with
fire, or bury me in earth, or give me for food to the monsters of the
deep, and grudge me not these prayers, O king! Amply have my
much-traversed wanderings harassed me; nor can I discover how I may
avoid pain. Hearest thou the address of the ox-horned maiden?
PR. How can I fail to hear the damsel that is frenzy-driven by the
hornet, the daughter of Inachus, who warms the heart of Jupiter with
love, and now, abhorred of Juno, is driven perforce courses of exceeding
IO. From whence utterest thou the name of my father? Tell me, the
woe-begone, who thou art, who, I say, O hapless one, that hast thus
correctly accosted me miserable, and hast named the heaven-inflicted
disorder which wastes me, fretting with its maddening stings? Ah! ah!
violently driven by the famishing tortures of my boundings have I come a
victim to the wrathful counsels of Juno. And of the ill-fated who are
there, ah me! that endure woes such as mine? But do thou clearly define
to me what remains for me to suffer, what salve: what remedy there
is for my malady, discover to me, if at all thou knowest: speak, tell it
to the wretched roaming damsel.
PR. I will tell thee clearly every thing which thou desirest to learn,
not interweaving riddles, but in plain language, as it is right to open
the mouth to friends. Thou seest him that bestowed fire on mortals,
IO. O thou that didst dawn a common benefit upon mortals, wretched
Prometheus, as penance for what offense art thou thus suffering?
PR. I have just ceased lamenting my own pangs.
IO. Wilt thou not then accord to me this boon?
PR. Say what it is that thou art asking, for thou mightest learn
everything from me.
IO. Say who it was that bound thee fast in this cleft?
PR. The decree of Jupiter, but the hand of Vulcan.
IO. And for what offenses art thou paying the penalty?
PR. Thus much alone is all that I can clearly explain to thee.
IO. At least, in addition to this, discover what time shall be to me
woe-worn the limit of my wanderings.
PR. Not to learn this is better for thee than to learn it.
IO. Yet conceal not from me what I am to endure.
PR. Nay, I grudge thee not this gift.
IO. Why then delayest thou to utter the whole?
PR. 'Tis not reluctance, but I am loth to shock thy feelings.
IO. Do not be more anxious on my account than is agreeable to me.
PR. Since thou art eager, I must needs tell thee: attend thou.
CH. Not yet, however; but grant me also a share of the pleasure. Let us
first learn the malady of this maiden, from her own tale of her
destructive fortunes; but, for the sequel of her afflictions let her
be informed by thee.
PR. It is thy part, Io, to minister to the gratification of these now
before thee, both for all other reasons, and that they are the sisters
of thy father. Since to weep and lament over misfortunes, when one is
sure to win a tear from the listeners, is well worth the while.
IO. I know not how I should disobey you; and in a plain tale ye shall
learn everything that ye desire; and yet I am pained even to speak of
the tempest that hath been sent upon me from heaven, and the utter
marring of my person, whence it suddenly came upon me, a wretched
creature! For nightly visions thronging to my maiden chamber, would
entice me with smooth words: "O damsel, greatly fortunate, why dost
thou live long time in maidenhood, when it is in thy power to achieve a
match the very noblest? for Jupiter is fired by thy charms with the
shaft of passion, and longs with thee to share in love. But do not, my
child, spurn away from thee the couch of Jupiter; but go forth to
Lerna's fertile mead, to the folds and ox-stalls of thy father, that the
eye of Jove may have respite from its longing." By dreams such as these
was I unhappy beset every night, until at length I made bold to tell my
sire of the dreams that haunted me by night. And he dispatched both to
Pytho and Dodona many a messenger to consult the oracles, that he
might learn what it behooved him to do or say, so as to perform what was
well-pleasing to the divinities. And they came bringing a report back of
oracles ambiguously worded, indistinct, and obscurely delivered. But at
last a clear response came to Inachus, plainly charging and directing
him to thrust me forth both from my home and my country, to stray an
outcast to earth's remotest limits; and that, if he would not, a
fiery-visaged thunder-bolt would come from Jupiter, and utterly blot out
his whole race. Overcome by oracles of Loxias such as these, unwilling
did me expel and exclude me unwilling from his dwelling: but the bit of
Jupiter perforce constrained him to do this. And straightway my
person and my mind were distorted, and horned, as ye see, stung by the
keenly-biting fly, I rushed with maniac boundings to the sweet stream of
Cerchneia, and the fountain of Lerna; and the earth-born neatherd
Argus of untempered fierceness, kept dogging me, peering after my
footsteps with thick-set eyes. Him, however, an unlooked-for sudden fate
bereaved of life; but I hornet-stricken am driven by the scourge divine
from land to land. Thou hearest what has taken place, and if thou art
able to say what pangs there remain for me, declare them; and do not,
compassionating me, warm me with false tales, for I pronounce fabricated
statements to be a most foul malady.
CH. Ah! ah! forbear! Alas! Never, never did I expect that a tale [so]
strange would come to my ears, or that sufferings thus horrible to
witness and horrible to endure, outrages, terrors with their two-edged
goad, would chill my spirit. Alas! alas! O Fate! Fate! I shudder as I
behold the condition of Io.
PR. Prematurely, however, are thou sighing, and art full of terror.
Hold, until thou shalt also have heard the residue.
CH. Say on; inform me fully: to the sick indeed it is sweet to get a
clear knowledge beforehand of the sequel of their sorrows.
PR. Your former desire at any rate ye gained from me easily; for first
of all ye desired to be informed by her recital of the affliction
that attaches to herself. Now give ear to the rest, what sort of
sufferings it is the fate of this young damsel before you to undergo at
the hand of Juno: thou too, seed of Inachus, lay to heart my words, that
thou mayest be fully informed of the termination of thy journey. In the
first place, after turning thyself from this spot toward the rising of
the sun, traverse unplowed fields; and thou wilt reach the wandering
Scythians, who, raised from off the around, inhabit wicker dwellings on
well-wheeled cars, equipped with distant-shooting bows; to whom thou
must not draw near, but pass on out of their land, bringing thy feet to
approach the rugged roaring shores. And on thy left hand dwell the
Chalybes, workers of iron, of whom thou must needs beware, for they are
barbarous, and not accessible to strangers. And thou wilt come to the
river Hybristes, not falsely so called, which do not thou cross, for
it is not easy to ford, until thou shalt have come to Caucasus itself,
loftiest of mountains, where from its very brow the river spouts forth
its might. And surmounting its peaks that neighbor on the stars, thou
must go into a southward track, where thou wilt come to the
man-detesting host of Amazons, who hereafter shall make a settlement,
Themiscyra, on the banks of Thermodon, where lies the rugged
Salmydessian sea-gorge, a host by mariners hated, a step-dame to ships;
and they will conduct thee on thy way, and that right willingly. Thou
shalt come too to the Cimmerian isthmus, hard by the very portals of a
lake, with narrow passage, which thou undauntedly must leave, and cross
the Mæotic frith; and there shall exist for evermore among mortals a
famous legend concerning thy passage, and after thy name it shall be
called the Bosphorus; and after having quitted European ground, thou
shalt come to the Asiatic continent. Does not then the sovereign of the
gods seem to you to be violent alike toward all things? for he a god
lusting to enjoy the charms of this mortal fair one, hath cast upon her
these wanderings. And a bitter wooer, maiden, hast thou found for thy
hand; for think that the words which thou hast now heard are not even
for a prelude.
IO. Woe is me! ah! ah!
PR. Thou too in thy turn art crying out and moaning: what wilt thou
do then, when thou learnest the residue of thy ills?
CH. What! hast thou aught of suffering left to tell to her?
PR. Ay, a tempestuous sea of baleful calamities.
IO. What gain then is it for me to live? but why did I not quickly fling
myself from this rough precipice, that dashing on the plain I had rid
myself of all my pangs? for better is it once to die, than all one's
days to suffer ill.
PR. Verily thou wouldst hardly bear the agonies of me to whom it is not
doomed to die. For this would be an escape from sufferings. But now
there is no limit set to my hardships, until Jove shall have been
deposed from his tyranny.
IO. What! is it possible that Jupiter should ever fall from his power?
PR. Glad wouldst thou be, I ween, to witness this event.
IO. And how not so, I, who through Jupiter am suffering ill?
PR. Well, then, thou mayest assure thyself of these things that they are
IO. By whom is he to be despoiled of his sceptre of tyranny.
PR. Himself, by his own senseless counsels.
IO. In what manner? Specify it, if there be no harm.
PR. He will make such a match as he shall one day rue.
IO. Celestial or mortal? If it may be spoken, tell me.
PR. But why ask its nature? for it is not a matter that I can
communicate to you.
IO. Is it by a consort that he is to be ejected from his throne?
PR. Yes, surely, one that shall give birth to a son mightier than the
IO. And has he no refuge from this misfortune?
PR. Not he, indeed, before at any rate I after being liberated from my
IO. Who, then, is he that shall liberate thee in despite of Jupiter?
PR. It is ordained that it shall be one of thine own descendants.
IO. How sayest thou? Shall child of mine release thee from thy ills?
PR. Yes, the third of thy lineage in addition to ten other
IO. This prophecy of thine is no longer easy for me to form a guess
PR. Nor seek thou to know over well thine own pangs.
IO. Do not, after proffering me a benefit, withhold it from me.
PR. I will freely grant thee one of two disclosures.
IO. Explain to me first of what sort they are, and allow me my choice.
PR. I allow it thee; for choose whether I shall clearly tell to thee the
residue of thy troubles, or who it is that is to be my deliverer.
CH. Of these twain do thou vouchsafe to bestow the one boon on this
damsel, and the other on me, and disdain thou not my request. To her
tell the rest of her wanderings, and to me him that is to deliver thee;
for this I long [to hear].
PR. Seeing that ye are eagerly bent upon it, I will not oppose your
wishes, so as not to utter every thing as much as ye desire. To thee in
the first place, Io, will I describe thy mazy wanderings, which do thou
engrave on the recording tablets of thy mind.
When thou shalt have crossed the stream that is the boundary of the
Continents, to the ruddy realms of morn where walks the sun ...
having passed over the roaring swell of the sea, until thou shalt reach
the Gorgonian plains of Cisthene, where dwell the Phorcides, three
swan-like aged damsels, that possess one eye in common, that have but a
single tooth, on whom ne'er doth the sun glance with his rays, nor the
nightly moon. And hard by are three winged sisters of these, the
snake-tressed Gorgons, abhorred of mortals, whom none of human race can
look upon and retain the breath of life. Such is this caution
which I mention to thee. Now lend an ear to another hideous spectacle;
for be on thy guard against the keen-fanged hounds of Jupiter that never
bark, the gryphons, and the cavalry host of one-eyed Arimaspians, who
dwell on the banks of the gold-gushing fount, the stream of Pluto: go
not thou nigh to these. And thou wilt reach a far-distant land, a dark
tribe, who dwell close upon the fountains of the sun, where is the river
Æthiops. Along the banks of this wend thy way, until thou shalt have
reached the cataract where from the Bybline mountains the Nile pours
forth his hallowed, grateful stream. This will guide thee to the
triangular land of the Nile; where at length, Io, it is ordained for
thee and thy children after thee to found the distant colony. And if
aught of this is obscurely uttered, and hard to be understood, question
me anew, and learn it thoroughly and clearly: as for leisure, I have
more than I desire.
CH. If indeed thou hast aught to tell of her baleful wanderings, that
still remains or hath been omitted, say on; but if thou hast told the
whole, give to us in our turn the favor which we ask, and you,
PR. She hath heard the full term of her journeying. And that she may
know that she hath not been listening to me in vain, I will relate what
hardships she endured before she came hither, giving her this as a sure
proof of my statements. The very great multitude indeed of words I
shall omit, and I will proceed to the termination itself of thine
aberrations. For after that thou hadst come to the Molossian plains, and
about the lofty ridge of Dodona, where is the oracular seat of
Thesprotian Jove, and a portent passing belief, the speaking oaks, by
which thou wast clearly and without any ambiguity saluted illustrious
spouse of Jove that art to be; if aught of this hath any charms for
thee. Thence madly rushing along the seaside track, thou didst dart
away to the vast bay of Rhea, from which thou art tempest-driven in
retrograde courses: and in time to come, know well that the gulf of the
deep shall be called IO-nian, a memorial of thy passage to all mortals.
These hast thou as tokens of my intelligence, how that it perceives
somewhat beyond what appears.
The rest I shall tell both to you and to her in common, after reaching
the very identical track of my former narrative. There is on the land's
utmost verge a city Canopus, hard by the Nile's very mouth and alluvial
dike; on this spot Jupiter at length makes thee sane by merely soothing
and touching thee with his unalarming hand. And named after the
progeniture of Jupiter thou shalt give birth to swarthy Epaphus, who
shall reap the harvest of all the land which the wide-streaming Nile
waters. But fifth in descent from him a generation of fifty virgins
shall again come to Argos, not of their own accord, fleeing from
incestuous wedlock with their cousins; and these with fluttering hearts,
like falcons left not far behind by doves, shall come pursuing marriage
such as should not be pursued, but heaven shall be jealous over their
persons; and Pelasgia shall receive them after being crushed by a
deed of night-fenced daring, wrought by woman's hand; for each bride
shall bereave her respective husband of life, having dyed in their
throats a sword of twin sharp edge. Would that in guise like this
Venus might visit my foes! But tenderness shall soften one of the
maidens, so that she shall not slay the partner of her couch, but shall
be blunt in her resolve; and of the two alternatives she shall choose
the former, to be called a coward rather than a murderess. She in Argos
shall give birth to a race of kings. There needs a long discourse to
detail these things distinctly; but from this seed be sure shall spring
a dauntless warrior renowned in archery, who shall set me free from
these toils. Such predictions did my aged mother the Titaness Themis
rehearse to me; but how and when--to tell this requires a long detail,
and thou in knowing it all wouldst be in nought a gainer.
IO. Eleleu! Eleleu! Once more the spasm and maddening frenzies
inflame me--and the sting of the hornet, wrought by no fire,
envenoms me; and with panic my heart throbs violently against my breast.
My eyes, too, are rolling in a mazy whirl, and I am carried out of my
course by the raging blast of madness, having no control of tongue, but
my troubled words dash idly against the surges of loathsome calamity.
CH. Wise was the man, ay, wise indeed, who first weighed well this
maxim, and with his tongue published it abroad, that to match in one's
own degree is best by far; and that one who lives by labor should
woo the hand neither of any that have waxed wanton in opulence, nor of
such as pride themselves on nobility of birth. Never, O Destines,
never ... may ye behold me approaching as a partner the couch of
Jupiter: nor may I be brought to the arms of any bridegroom from
among the sons of heaven: for I am in dread when I behold the maiden Io,
contented with no mortal lover, greatly marred by wearisome wanderings
at the hand of Juno. For myself, indeed--inasmuch as wedlock on one's
own level is free from apprehension--I feel no alarm. And oh! never
may the love of the mightier gods cast on me a glance that none can
elude. This at least is a war without a conflict, accomplishing things
impossible: nor know I what might become of me, for I see not how I
could evade the counsel of Jove.
PR. Yet truly shall Jove, albeit he is self-willed in his temper, be
lowly, in such wedlock is he prepared to wed, as shall hurl him out
of his sovereignty and off his throne a forgotten thing; and the curse
of his father Saturn shall then at length find entire consummation,
which he imprecated when he was deposed from his ancient throne. From
disasters such as these there is no one of the gods besides myself that
can clearly disclose to him a way of escape. I know this, and by what
means. Wherefore let him rest on in his presumption, putting confidence
in his thunders aloft, brandishing in his hand a fire-breathing bolt.
For not one jot shall these suffice to save him from falling dishonored
in a downfall beyond endurance; such an antagonist is he now with his
own hands preparing against himself, a portent that shall baffle all
resistance; who shall invent a flame more potent than the lightning, and
a mighty din that shall surpass the thunder; and shall shiver the ocean
trident, that earth-convulsing pest, the spear of Neptune. And when he
hath stumbled upon this mischief, he shall be taught how great is the
difference between sovereignty and slavery.
CH. Thou forsooth art boding against Jupiter the things thou wishest.
PR. Things that shall come to pass, and that I desire to boot.
CH. And are we to expect that any one will get the mastery of Jove?
PR. Ay, and pangs too yet harder to bear than these [of mine] shall he
CH. And how is it that thou art not dismayed blurting out words such as
PR. Why at what should I be terrified to whom it is not destined to die?
CH. Yet perchance he will provide for thee affliction more grievous than
PR. Let him do it then, all is foreseen by me.
CH. They that do homage to Adrasteia are wise.
PR. Do homage, make thy prayer, cringe to each ruler of the day. I care
for Jove less than nothing; let him do, let him lord it for this brief
span, e'en as he list, for not long shall he rule over the gods. But no
more, for I descry Jove's courier close at hand, the menial of the new
monarch: beyond all [doubt] he has come to announce to us some news.
Thee, the contriver, thee full of gall and bitterness, who sinned
against the gods by bestowing their honors on creatures of a day, the
thief of fire, I address. The Sire commands thee to divulge of what
nuptials it is that thou art vaunting, by means of which he is to be put
down from his power. And these things, moreover, without any kind of
mystery, but each exactly as it is, do thou tell out; and entail not
upon me, Prometheus, a double journey; and thou perceivest that by such
conduct Jove is not softened.
PR. High sounding, i'faith, and full of haughtiness is thy speech, as
beseems a lackey of the gods. Young in years, ye are young in power;
and ye fancy forsooth that ye dwell in a citadel impregnable against
sorrow. Have I not known two monarchs dethroned from it? And the
third that now is ruler I shall also see expelled most foully and most
quickly. Seem I to thee in aught to be dismayed at, and to crouch
beneath the new gods? Widely, ay altogether, do I come short [of such
feelings]. But do thou hie thee back the way by which thou camest: for
not one tittle shalt thou learn of the matter on which thou questionest
MER. Yet truly 'twas by such self-will even before now that thou didst
bring thyself to such a calamitous mooring.
PR. Be well assured that I would not barter my wretched plight for thy
drudgery; for better do I deem it to be a lackey to this rock, than to
be born the confidential courier of father Jove. Thus is it meet to
repay insult in kind.
MER. Thou seemest to revel in thy present state.
PR. Revel! Would that I might see my foes thus reveling, and among these
I reckon thee.
MER. What dost thou impute to me also any blame for thy mischances?
PR. In plain truth, I detest all the gods, as many of them as, after
having received benefits at my hands, are iniquitously visiting me with
MER. I hear thee raving with no slight disorder.
PR. Disordered I would be, if disorder it be to loathe one's foes.
MER. Thou wouldst be beyond endurance, wert thou in prosperity.
PR. Woe's me!
MER. This word of thine Jove knows not.
PR. Ay, but Time as he grows old teaches all things.
MER. And yet verily thou knowest not yet how to be discreet.
PR. No i'faith, or I should not have held parley with thee, menial as
MER. Thou seemest disposed to tell nought of the things which the Sire
PR. In sooth, being under obligation as I am to him, I am bound to
return his favor.
MER. Thou floutest me, forsooth, as if I were a boy.
PR. Why, art thou not a boy, and yet sillier than one, if thou lookest
to obtain any information from me? There is no outrage nor artifice by
which Jupiter shall bring me to utter this, before my torturing shackles
shall have been loosened. Wherefore let his glowing lightning be hurled,
and with the white feathered shower of snow, and thunderings beneath the
earth let him confound and embroil the universe; for nought of these
things shall bend me so much as even to say by whom it is doomed that he
shall be put down from his sovereignty.
MER. Consider now whether this determination seems availing.
PR. Long since has this been considered and resolved.
MER. Resolve, O vain one, resolve at length in consideration of thy
present sufferings to come to thy right senses.
PR. Thou troublest me with thine admonitions as vainly as
[thou mightest] a billow. Never let it enter your thoughts that I,
affrighted by the purpose of Jupiter, shall become womanish, and shall
importune the object whom I greatly loathe, with effeminate upliftings
of my hands, to release me from these shackles: I want much of that.
MER. With all that I have said I seem to be speaking to no purpose; for
not one whit art thou melted or softened in thy heart by entreaties, but
art champing the bit like a colt fresh yoked, and struggling against the
reins. But on the strength of an impotent scheme art thou thus violent;
for obstinacy in one not soundly wise, itself by itself availeth less
than nothing. And mark, if thou art not persuaded by my words, what a
tempest and three-fold surge of ills, from which there is no escape,
will come upon thee. For in the first place the Sire will shiver this
craggy cleft with thunder and the blaze of his bolt, and will overwhelm
thy body, and a clasping arm of rock shall bear thee up. And after thou
shalt have passed through to its close, a long space of time, thou shalt
come back into the light; and a winged hound of Jupiter, a
blood-thirsting eagle, shall ravenously mangle thy huge lacerated frame,
stealing upon thee an unbidden guest, and [tarrying] all the live-long
day, and shall banquet his fill on the black viands of thy liver. To
such labors look thou for no termination, until some god shall appear
as a substitute in thy pangs, and shall be willing to go both to gloomy
Hades, and to the murky depths around Tartarus. Wherefore advise thee,
since this is no fictitious vaunt, but uttered in great earnestness; for
the divine mouth knows not how to utter falsehood, but will bring every
word to pass. But do thou look around and reflect, and never for a
moment deem pertinacity better than discretion.
CH. To us, indeed, Mercury seems to propose no unseasonable counsel; for
he bids thee to abandon thy recklessness, and seek out wise
consideration. Be persuaded; for to a wise man 'tis disgraceful to err.
PR. To me already well aware of it hath this fellow urged his message;
but for a foe to suffer horribly at the hands of foes is no indignity.
Wherefore let the doubly-pointed wreath of his fire be hurled at me, and
ether be torn piecemeal by thunder, and spasm of savage blasts; and let
the wind rock earth from her base, roots and all, and with stormy surge
mingle in rough tide the billow of the deep and the paths of the stars;
and fling my body into black Tartarus, with a whirl, in the stern eddies
of necessity. Yet by no possible means shall he visit me with death.
MER. Resolutions and expressions, in truth, such as these of thine, one
may hear from maniacs. For in what point doth his fate fall short of
insanity? What doth it abate from ravings? But do ye then at any
rate, that sympathize with him in his sufferings, withdraw hence
speedily some-whither from this spot, lest the harsh bellowing of the
thunder smite you with idiotcy.
CH. Utter and advise me to something else, in which too thou mayest
prevail upon me; for in this, be sure, thou hast intruded a proposal
not to be borne. How is it that thou urgest me to practice baseness?
Along with him here I am willing to endure what is destined, for I have
learned to abhor traitors; and there is no evil which I hold in greater
MER. Well, then, bear in mind the things of which I forewarn you: and do
not, when ye have been caught in the snares of Atè, throw the blame on
fortune, nor ever at any time say that Jove cast you into unforeseen
calamity: no indeed, but ye your ownselves: for well aware, and not on a
sudden, nor in ignorance, will ye be entangled by your senselessness in
an impervious net of Atè.
PR. And verily in deed and no longer in word doth the earth heave, and
the roaring echo of thunder rolls bellowing by us; and deep blazing
wreaths of lightning are glaring, and hurricanes whirl the dust; and
blasts of all the winds are leaping forth, showing one against the other
a strife of conflict gusts; and the firmament is embroiled with the
deep. Such is this onslaught that is clearly coming upon me from
Jove, a cause for terror. O dread majesty of my mother Earth, O ether
that diffusest thy common light, thou beholdest the wrongs I suffer.
THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES.
The siege of the city of Thebes, and the description of the seven
champions of the Theban and Argive armies, The deaths of the brothers
Polynices and Eteocles, the mournings over them, by their sisters
Antigone and Ismene, and the public refusal of burial to the ashes of
Polynices, against which Antigone boldly protests, conclude the play.
CHORUS OF THEBAN VIRGINS.
SCENE. The Acropolis of Thebes.--Compare v. 227, ed. Blomf.
TIME. Early in the morning; the length of the action can scarcely be
fixed with absolute certainty. It certainly did not exceed twelve hours.
The expedition of "the Seven" against Thebes is fixed by Sir I. Newton,
B.C. 928. Cf. of his Chronology, p. 27. Blair carries it as far back as
B.C. 1225.--OLD TRANSLATOR.
ETEOCLES. Citizens of Cadmus! it is fitting that he should speak things
seasonable who has the care of affairs on the poop of a state, managing
the helm, not lulling his eyelids in slumber. For if we succeed, the
gods are the cause; but if, on the other hand (which heaven forbid),
mischance should befall, Eteocles alone would be much bruited through
the city by the townsmen in strains clamorous and in wailings, of which
may Jove prove rightly called the Averter to the city of the
Cadmæans. And now it behooves you--both him who still falls short of
youth in its prime, and him who in point of age has passed his youth,
nurturing the ample vigor of his frame and each that is in his
prime, as is best fitting--to succor the city, and the altars of
your country's gods, so that their honors may never be obliterated; your
children too, and your motherland, most beloved nurse; for she, taking
fully on herself the whole trouble of your rearing, nurtured you when
infants crawling on her kindly soil, for her trusty shield-bearing
citizens, that ye might be [trusty] for this service. And, for the
present indeed, up to this day, the deity inclines in our favor; since
to us now all this time beleaguered the war for the most part, by divine
allotment, turns out well. But now, as saith the seer, the feeder of
birds, revolving in ear and thoughts, without the use of fire, the
oracular birds with unerring art--he, lord of such divining powers,
declares that the main Achæan assault is this night proclaimed, and
[that the Achæans] attempt the city.
But haste ye all, both to the battlements and the gates of the tower
works; On! in full panoply throng the breastworks, and take your
stations on the platforms of the towers, and, making stand at the
outlets of the gates, be of good heart, nor be over-dismayed at the
rabble of the aliens; God will give a happy issue. Moreover, I have also
dispatched scouts and observers of the army, who will not, I feel
assured, loiter on their way; and when I have had intelligence from
these, I shall, in no point, be surprised by stratagem.
MESSENGER.--Most gallant Eteocles! sovereign of the Cadmæans, I have
come bearing a clear account of the matters yonder, from the army; and I
myself am eye-witness of the facts. For seven chieftains, impetuous
leaders of battalions, cutting a bull's throat, over an iron-rimmed
shield, and touching with their hands the gore of the bull, by oath
have called to witness Mars, Enyo, and Terror, that delights in
bloodshed, that either having wrought the demolition of our city they
will make havoc of the town of the Cadmæans, or having fallen will steep
this land of ours in gore. Memorials too of themselves, to their parents
at home, were they with their hands hanging in festoons at the car
of Adrastus, dropping a tear, but no sound of complaint passed their
lips. For their iron-hearted spirit glowing with valor was panting,
as of lions that glare battle. And the report of these my tidings is not
retarded by sluggishness. But I left them in the very act of casting
lots, that so each of them, obtaining his post by lot, might lead on his
battalion to our gates. Wherefore do thou with all speed marshal at the
outlets of the gates the bravest men, the chosen of our city; for
already the host of Argives hard at hand armed cap-à-pié is in motion,
is speeding onward, and white foam is staining the plain with its
drippings from the lungs of their chargers. Do thou then, like the
clever helmsman of a vessel, fence our city before the breath of
Mars burst like a hurricane upon it, for the main-land billow of their
host is roaring. And for these measures do thou seize the very earliest
opportunity; for the sequel I will keep my eye a faithful watch by day,
and thou, knowing from the clearness of my detail the movements of those
without, shalt be unscathed.
ET. O Jupiter! and earth! and ye tutelary deities! and thou Curse, the
mighty Erinnys of my sire! do not, I pray, uproot with utter destruction
from its very base, a prey to foemen, our city, which utters the
language of Greece, and our native dwellings. Grant that they may
never hold the free land and city of Cadmus in a yoke of slavery; but be
ye our strength--nay, I trust that I am urging our common interests, for
a state that is in prosperity honors the divinities.
CHORUS. I wail over our fearful, mighty woes! the army is let loose,
having quitted its camp, a mighty mounted host is streaming hitherward
in advance; the dust appearing high in the air convinces me, a
voiceless, clear, true messenger; the noise of the clatter of their
hoofs upon the plain, reaching even to our couches, approaches my
ears, is wafted on, and is rumbling like a resistless torrent lashing
the mountain-side. Alas! alas! oh gods and goddesses, avert the rising
horror; the white-bucklered well-appointed host is rushing on with a
shout on the other side our walls, speeding its way to the city. Who
then will rescue us, who then of gods and goddesses will aid us? Shall I
then prostrate myself before the statues of the divinities? Oh ye
blessed beings, seated on your glorious thrones, 'tis high time for us
to cling to your statues--why do we deeply sighing delay? Hear ye, or
hear ye not, the clash of bucklers? When, if not now, shall we set
about the orison of the peplus and chaplets? I perceive a din, a
crash of no single spear. What wilt thou do? wilt thou, O Mars, ancient
guardian of our soil, abandon thine own land? God of the golden helm,
look upon, look upon the city which once thou didst hold well-beloved.
Tutelary gods of our country, behold, behold this train of virgins
suppliant to escape from slavery, for around our city a surge of
men with waving crests is rippling, stirred by the blasts of Mars. But,
O Jove, sire all-perfect! avert thoroughly from us capture by the
foemen; for Argives are encircling the fortress of Cadmus; and I feel a
dread of martial arms, and the bits which are fastened through the jaws
of their horses are knelling slaughter. And seven leaders of the host,
conspicuous in their spear-proof harness, are taking their stand at our
seventh gate, assigned their posts by lot. Do thou too, O Jove-born
power that delightest in battle, Pallas, become a savior to our city;
and thou, equestrian monarch, sovereign of the main, with thy
fish-smiting trident, O Neptune, grant a deliverance, a deliverance from
our terrors. Do thou too, O Mars, alas! alas! guard the city which is
named after Cadmus, and manifestly show thy care--and thou, Venus, the
original mother of our race, avert [these ills]--for from thy blood are
we sprung; calling on thee with heavenward orisons do we approach thee.
And thou, Lycæan king, be thou fierce as a wolf to the hostile
army, [moved] by the voice of our sighs. Thou too, virgin-daughter
of Latona, deftly adorn thyself with thy bow, O beloved Diana. Ah! ah!
ah! I hear the rumbling of cars around the city, O revered Juno, the
naves of the heavy-laden axles creak, the air is maddened with the
whizzing of javelins--what is our city undergoing? What will become of
it? To what point is the deity conducting the issue? ah! ah! A
shower of stones too from their slingers is coming over our battlements.
O beloved Apollo! there is the clash of brass-rimmed shields at the
gates, and the just issue in battle must be decided by arms according to
the disposal of Jove. And thou Onca, immortal queen, that
dwellest in front of our city, rescue thy seven-gated seat. O gods,
all-potent to save, O ye gods and goddesses, perfect guardians of the
towers of this land, abandon not our war-wasted city to an army of
aliens. Listen to these virgins, listen to our all-just prayers, as is
most right, to the orisons of virgins which are offered with
out-stretched hands. O beloved divinities, hovering around our city as
its deliverers, show how ye love it; give heed to our public rituals,
and when ye give heed to them succor us, and be ye truly mindful, I
beseech ye, of the rites of our city which abound in sacrifices.
Intolerable creatures! is this, I ask you, best and salutary for our
city, and an encouragement to this beleagured force, for you to fall
before the statues of our tutelary gods, to shriek, to yell--O ye
abominations of the wise. Neither in woes nor in welcome prosperity may
I be associated with womankind; for when woman prevails, her audacity is
more than one can live with; and when she is affrighted, she is a still
greater mischief to her home and city. Even now, having brought upon
your countrymen this pell-mell flight, ye have, by your outcries, spread
dastard cowardice, and ye are serving, as best ye may, the interests of
those without, but we within our walls are suffering capture at our own
hands; such blessings will you have if you live along with women.
Wherefore if any one give not ear to my authority, be it man or woman,
or other between [these names], the fatal pebble shall decide
against him, and by no means shall he escape the doom of stoning at the
hand of the populace. For what passeth without is a man's concern, let
not woman offer advice--but remaining within do thou occasion no
mischief. Heard'st thou, or heard'st thou not, or am I speaking to a
CH. O dear son of OEdipus, I felt terror when I heard the din from the
clatter of the cars, when the wheel-whirling naves rattled, and [the
din] of the fire-wrought bits, the rudders of the horses, passing
through their mouths that know no rest.
ET. What then? does the mariner who flees from the stern to the
prow find means of escape, when his bark is laboring against the
billow of the ocean?
CH. No; but I came in haste to the ancient statues of the divinities,
trusting in the gods, when there was a pattering at our gates of
destructive sleet showering down, even then I was carried away by terror
to offer my supplications to the Immortals, that they would extend their
protection over the city.
ET. Pray that our fortification may resist the hostile spear.
CH. Shall not this, then, be at the disposal of the gods?
ET. Ay, but 'tis said that the gods of the captured city abandon it.
CH. At no time during my life may this conclave of gods abandon us:
never may I behold our city overrun, and an army firing it with hostile
ET. Do not thou, invoking the gods, take ill counsel; for subordination,
woman, is the mother of saving success; so the adage runs.
CH. But the gods have a power superior still, and oft in adversity does
this raise the helpless out of severe calamity, when clouds are
overhanging his brow.
ET. It is the business of men, to present victims and offerings of
worship to the gods, when foemen are making an attempt: 'tis thine on
the other hand to hold thy peace and abide within doors.
CH. 'Tis by the blessing of the gods that we inhabit a city unconquered,
and that our fortification is proof against the multitude of our
enemies. What Nemesis can feel offended at this?
ET. I am not offended that ye should honor the race of the gods; but
that thou mayest not render the citizens faint-hearted, keep quiet and
yield not to excessive terrors.
CH. When I heard the sudden din, I came, on the very instant, in
distracting panic to this Acropolis, a hallowed seat.
ET. Do not now, if ye hear of the dying or the wounded, eagerly receive
them with shrieks; for with this slaughter of mortals is Mars fed.
CH. And I do in truth hear the snortings of the horses.
ET. Do not now, when thou hearest them, hear too distinctly.
CH. Our city groans from the ground, as though the foes were hemming her
ET. Is it not then enough that I take measures for this?
CH. I fear! for the battering at the gates increases.
ET. Wilt thou not be silent? Say nought of this kind in the city.
CH. O associate band [of gods], abandon not our towers.
ET. Can not ye endure it in silence, and confusion to ye?
CH. Gods of my city! let me not meet with slavery.
ET. Thou thyself art making a slave both of me, of thyself, and of the
CH. O all-potent Jove! turn the shaft against our foes.
ET. O Jove! what a race hast thou made women!
CH. Just as wretched as men when their city is taken.
ET. Again thou art yelping as thou claspest the statues!
CH. Yes, for in my panic terror hurries away my tongue.
ET. Would to heaven that you would grant me a trifling favor on my
CH. Tell me as quickly as you can, and I shall know at once.
ET. Hold thy peace, wretched woman, alarm not thy friends.
CH. I hold my peace--with others I will suffer what is destined.
ET. I prefer this expression of thine rather than thy former words; and
moreover, coming forth from the statues, pray thou for the best--that
the gods may be our allies. And after thou hast listened to my prayers,
then do thou raise the sacred auspicious shout of the Pæan, the Grecian
rite of sacrificial acclamation, an encouragement to thy friends that
removes the fear of the foe. And I, to the tutelary gods of our land,
both those who haunt the plains, and those who watch over the forum, and
to the fountains of Dirce, and I speak not without those of the
Ismenus, if things turn out well and our city is preserved, do thus
make my vows that we, dyeing the altars of the gods with the blood of
sheep, offering bulls to the gods, will deposit trophies, and vestments
of our enemies, spear-won spoils of the foe, in their hallowed abodes.
Offer thou prayers like these to the gods, not with a number of sighs,
nor with foolish and wild sobbings; for not one whit the more wilt thou
escape Destiny. But I too, forsooth, will go and marshal at the
seven outlets of our walls, six men, with myself for a seventh,
antagonists to our foes in gallant plight, before both urgent messengers
and quickly-bruited tidings arrive, and inflame us by the crisis.
CH. I attend, but through terror my heart sleeps not, and cares that
press close upon my heart keep my dread alive, because of the host that
hems our walls around; like as a dove, an all-attentive nurse,
fears, on behalf of her brood, serpents, evil intruders into her nest.
For some are advancing against the towers in all their numbers, in all
their array; (what will become of me?) and others are launching the vast
rugged stone at the citizens, who are assailed on all sides. By every
means, O ye Jove-descended gods! rescue the city and the army that
spring from Cadmus. What better plain of land will ye take in exchange
to yourselves than this, after ye have abandoned to our enemies the
fertile land, and Dirce's water best fed of all the streams that
earth-encircling Neptune sends forth, and the daughters of Tethys?
Wherefore, O tutelary gods of the city! having hurled on those without
the towers the calamity that slaughters men, and casts away shields,
achieve glory for these citizens, and be your statues placed on noble
sites, as deliverers of our city, through our entreaties fraught
with shrill groanings. For sad it is to send prematurely to destruction
an ancient city, a prey of slavery to the spear, ingloriously overthrown
in crumbling ashes by an Achæan according to the will of heaven; and for
its women to be dragged away captives, alas! alas! both the young and
the aged, like horses by their hair, while their vestments are rent
about their persons. And the emptied city cries aloud, while its booty
is wasted amid confused clamors; verily I fearfully forbode heavy
calamities. And a mournful thing it is for [maidens] just
marriageable, before the celebration of rites for culling the fresh
flower of their virginity, to have to traverse a hateful journey from
their homes. What? I pronounce that the dead fares better than these;
for full many are the calamities, alas! alas! which a city undergoes
when it has been reduced. One drags another, slaughters, and to
parts he sets fire--the whole city is defiled with smoke, and raving
Mars that tramples down the nations, violating piety, inspires them.
Throughout the town are uproars, against the city rises the turreted
circumvallation, and man is slain by man with the spear. And the
cries of children at the breast all bloody resound, and there is rapine
sister of pell-mell confusion. Pillager meets pillager, and the
empty-handed shouts to the empty-handed, wishing to have a partner,
greedy for a portion that shall be neither less nor equal. What of these
things can speech picture? Fruits of every possible kind strewn
upon the ground occasion sorrow, and dismal is the face of the
stewards. And full many a gift of earth is swept along in the worthless
streams, in undistinguished medley. And young female slaves have new
sorrows, a foe being superior and fortunate as to their wretched
captive couch, so that they hope for life's gloomy close to come, a
guardian against their all-mournful sorrows.
SEMI-CH. The scout, methinks, my friends, is bringing us some fresh
tidings from the army, urging in haste the forwarding axles of his
SEMI-CH. Ay, and in very truth, here comes our prince, son of OEdipus,
very opportunely for learning the messenger's report--and haste does not
allow him to make equal footsteps.
[_Re-enter_ MESSENGER _and_ ETEOCLES _from different sides_.
MES. I would fain tell, for I know them well, the arrangements of our
adversaries, and how each has obtained his lot at our gate. Tydeus now
for some time has been raging hard by the gates of Proetus; but the
seer allows him not to cross the stream of Ismenus, for the sacrifices
are not auspicious. So Tydeus, raving and greedy for the fight, roars
like a serpent in its hissings beneath the noontide heat, and he smites
the sage seer, son of Oïcleus, with a taunt, [saying] that he is
crouching to both Death and Battle out of cowardice. Shouting out such
words as these, he shakes there shadowy crests, the hairy honors of his
helm, while beneath his buckler bells cast in brass are shrilly pealing
terror: on his buckler too he has this arrogant device--a gleaming sky
tricked out with stars, and in the centre of the shield a brilliant full
moon is conspicuous, most august of the heavenly bodies, the eye of
night. Chafing thus in his vaunting harness, he roars beside the bank of
the river, enamored of conflict, like a steed champing his bit with
rage, that rushes forth when he hears the voice of the trumpet.
Whom wilt thou marshal against this [foe]? Who, when the fastenings give
way, is fit to be intrusted with the defense of the gate of Proetus?
ET. At no possible array of a man should I tremble; and blazonry has no
power of inflicting wounds, and crests and bell bite not without
the spear. And for this night which thou tellest me is sparkling on his
buckler with the stars of heaven, it may perchance be a prophet in
conceit; for if night shall settle on his eyes as he is dying,
verily this vaunting device would correctly and justly answer to its
name, and he himself will have the insolence ominous against himself.
But against Tydeus will I marshal this wary son of Astacus, as defender
of the portals, full nobly born, and one that reverences the throne of
Modesty, and detests too haughty language, for he is wont to be slow at
base acts, but no dastard. And from the sown heroes whom Mars spared is
Melanippus sprung a scion, and he is thoroughly a native. But the event
Mars with his dice will decide. And justice, his near kinswoman, makes
him her champion, that he may ward off the foeman's spear from the
mother that bare him.
CH. Now may the gods grant unto our champion to be successful, since
with justice does he speed forth in defense of the city; but I
shudder to behold the sanguinary fate of those who perish in behalf of
MES. To him may the gods so grant success. But Capaneus has by lot
obtained his station against the Electran gate. This is a giant, greater
than the other aforementioned, and his vaunt savors not of humanity; but
he threatens horrors against our towers, which may fortune not bring to
pass! for he declares, that whether the god is willing or unwilling, he
will make havoc of our city, and that not the Wrath of Jove,
dashing down upon the plain, should stop him. And he is wont to compare
both the lightnings and the thunder-bolts to the heat of noontide. He
has a bearing too, a naked man bearing fire, and there gleams a torch
with which his hands are armed; and, in letters of gold, he is
uttering, I WILL BURN THE CITY. Against a man such as this do thou
send----. Who will engage with him? Who will abide his vaunting and
ET. And in this case also one advantage is gained upon another. Of
the vain conceits of man in sooth the tongue of truth becomes accuser.
But Capaneus is menacing, prepared for action, dishonoring the gods, and
practicing his tongue in vain exultation; mortal as he is, he is sending
loud-swelling words into heaven to the ears of Jove. But I trust that,
as he well deserves, the fire-bearing thunder-bolt will with justice
come upon him, in no wise likened to the noontide warmth of the sun. Yet
against him, albeit he is a very violent blusterer, is a hero marshaled,
fiery in his spirit, stout Polyphontes, a trusty guard by the favor of
Diana our protectress, and of the other gods. Mention another who hath
had his station fixed at another of our gates.
CH. May he perish who proudly vaunts against our city, and may the
thunder-bolt check him before that he bursts into my abode, or ever,
with his insolent spear force us away from our maiden dwellings.
MES. And verily I will mention him that hath next had his post allotted
against our gates: for to Eteoclus, third in order, hath the third lot
leapt from the inverted helm of glittering brass, for him to advance his
battalion against the gates of Neïs; and he is wheeling his steeds
fuming in their trappings, eager to dash forward against the gates. And
their snaffles ring, in barbarian fashion, filled with the breath of
their snorting nostrils. His buckler, too, hath been blazoned in no
paltry style, but a man in armor is treading the steps of a ladder to
his foemen's tower, seeking to storm it. And this man, in a combination
of letters, is shouting, how that not even Mars should force him from
the bulwarks. Do thou send also to this man a worthy champion to ward
off from this city the servile yoke.
ET. I will send this man forthwith, and may it be with good fortune; and
verily he is sent, bearing his boast in deed, Megareus, the
offspring of Creon, of the race of the sown; who will go forth from
the gates not a whit terrified at the noise of the mad snortings of the
horses; but, either by his fall will fully pay the debt of his nurture
to the land, or, having taken two men and the city on the shield,
will garnish with the spoils the house of his father. Vaunt thee of
another, and spare me not the recital.
CH. I pray that this side may succeed, O champion of my dwellings! and
that with them it may go ill; and as they, with frenzied mind, utter
exceedingly proud vaunts against our city, so may Jove the avenger
regard them in his wrath.
MES. Another, the fourth, who occupies the adjoining gates of Onca
Minerva, stands hard by with a shout, the shape and mighty mould of
Hippomedon; and I shuddered at him as he whirled the immense orb, I mean
the circumference of his buckler--I will not deny it. And assuredly it
was not any mean artificer in heraldry who produced this work upon his
buckler, a Typhon, darting forth through his fire-breathing mouth dark
smoke, the quivering sister of fire, and the circular cavity of the
hollow-bellied shield hath been made farther solid with coils of
serpents. He himself, too, hath raised the war-cry; and, possessed by
Mars, raves for the onslaught, like a Thyiad, glaring terror. Well
must we guard against the attack of such a man as this, for Terror is
already vaunting himself hard by our gates.
ET. In the first place, this Onca Pallas, who dwells in our suburbs,
living near the gates, detesting the insolence of the man, will drive
him off, as a noxious serpent from her young. And Hyperbius, worthy son
of OEnops, hath been chosen to oppose him, man to man, willing to
essay his destiny in the crisis of fortune; he is open to censure
neither in form, nor in spirit, nor in array of arm: but Mercury hath
matched them fairly; for hostile is the man to the man with whom he will
have to combat, and on their bucklers will they bring into conflict
hostile gods; for the one hath fire-breathing Typhon, and on the buckler
of Hyperbius father Jove is seated firm, flashing, with his bolt in his
hand; and never yet did any one know of Jove being by any chance
vanquished. Such in good sooth is the friendship of the
divinities: we are on the side of the victors, but they on that of the
conquered, if at least Jove be mightier in battle than Typhon. Wherefore
'tis probable that the combatants will fare accordingly; and to
Hyperbius, in accordance with its blazonry, may Jove that is on his
shield become a savior.
CH. I feel confident that he who hath upon his shield the adversary of
Jove, the hateful form of the subterranean fiend, a semblance hateful
both to mortals and the everliving gods, will have to leave his head
before our gates.
MES. May such be the issue! But, farthermore, I mention the fifth,
marshaled at the fifth gate, that of Boreas, by the very tomb of
Jove-born Amphion. And he makes oath by the spear which he grasps,
daring to revere it more than a god, and more dearly than his eyes,
that verily he will make havoc of the city of the Cadmæans in spite of
Jove: thus says the fair-faced scion of a mountain-dwelling mother, a
stripling hero, and the down is just making its way through his cheeks,
in the spring of his prime, thick sprouting hair. And he takes his post,
having a ruthless spirit, not answering to his maidenly name, and a
savage aspect. Yet not without his vaunt does he take stand against our
gates, for on his brazen-forged shield the rounded bulwark of his body,
he was wielding the reproach of our city, the Sphinx of ruthless maw
affixed by means of studs, a gleaming embossed form; and under her she
holds a man, one of the Cadmæans, so that against this man most
shafts are hurled. And he, a youth, Parthenopæus an Arcadian, seems to
have come to fight in no short measure, and not to disgrace the
length of way that he has traversed; for this man, such as he is, is a
sojourner, and, by way of fully repaying Argos for the goodly nurture
she has given him, he utters against these towers menaces, which may the
deity not fulfill.
ET. O may they receive from the gods the things which they are purposing
in those very unhallowed vaunts! Assuredly they would perish most
miserably in utter destruction. But there is [provided] for this man
also, the Arcadian of whom you speak, a man that is no braggart, but his
hand discerns what should be done, Actor, brother of the one
aforementioned, who will not allow either a tongue, without deeds,
streaming within our gates, to aggravate mischiefs, nor him to make his
way within who bears upon his hostile buckler the image of the wild
beast, most odious monster, which from the outside shall find fault with
him who bears it within, when it meets with a thick battering under the
city. So, please the gods, may I be speaking the truth.
CH. The tale pierces my bosom, the locks of my hair stand erect, when I
hear of the big words of these proudly vaunting impious men. Oh!
would that the gods would destroy them in the land.
MES. I will tell of the sixth, a man most prudent, and in valor the
best, the seer, the mighty Amphiaraus; for he, having been marshaled
against the gate of Homolöis, reviles mighty Tydeus full oft with
reproaches, as the homicide, the troubler of the state, chief teacher of
the mischiefs of Argos, the summoner of Erinnys, minister of slaughter,
and adviser of these mischiefs to Adrastus. Then again going up to
thy brother, the mighty Polynices, he casts his eye aloft, and, at last,
reproachfully dividing his name [into syllables,] he calls to him:
and through his mouth he gives utterance to this speech--"Verily such a
deed is well-pleasing to the gods, and glorious to hear of and to tell
in after times, that you are making havoc of your paternal city, and its
native gods, having brought into it a foreign armament. And what Justice
shall staunch the fountain of thy mother's tears?
"And how can thy father-land, after having been taken by the spear
through thy means, ever be an ally to thee? I, for my part, in very
truth shall fatten this soil, seer as I am, buried beneath a hostile
earth. Let us to the battle, I look not for a dishonorable fall." Thus
spake the seer, wielding a fair-orbed shield, all of brass; but no
device was on its circle--for he wishes not to seem but to be righteous,
reaping fruit from a deep furrow in his mind, from which sprout forth
his goodly counsels. Against this champion I advise that thou send
antagonists, both wise and good. A dread adversary is he that reveres
ET. Alas! for the omen that associates a righteous man with the
impious! Indeed in every matter, nothing is worse than evil
fellowship--the field of infatuation has death for its fruits. For
whether it be that a pious man hath embarked in a vessel along with
violent sailors, and some villany, he perishes with the race of men
abhorred of heaven; or, being righteous, and having rightly fallen into
the same toils with his countrymen, violators of hospitality, and
unmindful of the gods, he is beaten down, smitten with the scourge of
the deity, which falls alike on all. Now this seer, I mean the son of
Oïcleus, a moderate, just, good, and pious man, a mighty prophet,
associated with unholy bold-mouthed men, in spite of his [better]
judgment, when they made their long march, by the favor of Jove, shall
be drawn along with them to go to the distant city. I fancy,
indeed, that he will not make an attack on our gates, not as wanting
spirit, nor from cowardice of disposition, but he knows that it is his
doom to fall in battle, if there is to be any fruit in the oracles of
Apollo: 'tis his wont too to hold his peace, or to speak what is
seasonable. Nevertheless against him we will marshal a man, mighty
Lasthenes, a porter surly to strangers, and who bears an aged mind, but
a youthful form; quick is his eye, and he is not slow of hand to snatch
his spear made naked from his left hand. But for mortals to succeed
is a boon of the deity.
CH. O ye gods, give ear to our righteous supplications, and graciously
bring it to pass that our city may be successful, while ye turn the
horrors wrought by the spear upon the invaders of our country; and may
Jove, having flung them [to a distance] from our towers, slay them with
MES. Now will I mention this the seventh, against the seventh gate,
thine own brother--what calamities too he imprecates and prays for
against our city; that, he having scaled the towers, and been
proclaimed to the land, after having shouted out the pæan of
triumph at the capture, may engage with thee; and, having slain thee,
may die beside thee, or avenge himself on thee alive, that dishonored,
that banished him, by exile after the very same manner. This does
mighty Polynices clamor, and he summons the gods of his race and
fatherland to regard his supplications. He has, moreover, a
newly-constructed shield, well suited [to his arm] and a double device
wrought upon it. For a woman is leading on a mailed warrior, forged out
of brass, conducting him decorously; and so she professes to be Justice,
as the inscription tells: I WILL BRING BACK THIS MAN, AND HE SHALL HAVE
THE CITY OF HIS FATHERS, AND A DWELLING IN THE PALACE. Such are their
devices; and do thou thyself now determine whom it is that thou thinkest
proper to send: since never at any time shalt thou censure me for my
tidings; but do thou thyself determine the management of the vessel of
ET. O heaven-frenzied, and great abomination of the gods! Oh! for our
race of OEdipus, worthy of all mourning--Alas for me! now verily are
the curses of my sire coming to an accomplishment. But it becomes me not
to weep or wail, lest birth be given to a lament yet more intolerable.
But to Polynices, that well deserves his name, I say, soon shall we know
what issue his blazonry will have; whether letters wrought in gold,
vainly vaunting on his buckler, along with frenzy of soul will restore
him. If indeed Justice, the virgin daughter of Jove, attended on his
actions or his thoughts, perchance this might be. But neither when he
escape the darkness of the womb, nor in his infancy, nor ever in his
boyhood, nor in the gathering of the hair on his chin, did Justice look
on him, or deem him worthy her regards: nor truly do I suppose that she
will now take her stand near to him, in his ill-omened possession of his
father-land. Truly she would then in all reason be falsely called
Justice, were she to consort with a man all-daring in his soul. Trusting
in this I will go, and face him in person. Who else could do so with
better right? Leader against leader, brother against brother, foeman
with foeman, shall I take my stand. Bring me with all speed my greaves,
my spear, and my armor of defense against the stones.
CH. Do not, O dearest of men, son of OEdipus, become in wrath like to
him against whom thou hast most bitterly spoken. Enough it is that
Cadmæans come to the encounter with Argives. For such bloodshed admits
of expiation. But the death of own brothers thus mutually wrought by
their own hands--of this pollution there is no decay.
ET. If any one receives evil without disgrace, be it so; for the only
advantage is among the dead: but of evil and disgraceful things, thou
canst not tell me honor.
CH. Why art thou eager, my son? let not Atè, full of wrath, raging with
the spear, hurry thee away--but banish the first impulse of [evil]
ET. Since the deity with all power urges on the matter, let the whole
race of Laius, abhorred by Phoebus, having received for its portion
the wave of Cocytus, drift down with the wind.
CH. So fierce a biting lust for unlawful blood hurries thee on to
perpetrate the shedding of a man's blood, of which the fruit is
ET. Ay, for the hateful curse of my dear father, consummated, sits hard
beside me with dry tearless eyes, telling me that profit comes before my
CH. But do not accelerate it; thou wilt not be called dastardly if thou
honorably preservest thy life--and Erinnys, with her murky
tempest, enters not the dwelling where the gods receive a sacrifice from
the hands [of the inmates].
ET. By the gods, indeed, we have now for some time been in a manner
neglected, and the pleasure which arises from our destruction is
welcomed by them; why should we any longer fawn upon our deadly
CH. Do so now, while it is in thy power; since the demon, that may alter
with a distant shifting of his temper, will perchance come with a
gentler air; but now he still rages.
ET. Ay, for the curses of OEdipus have raged beyond all bounds; and
too true were my visions of phantoms seen in my slumbers, dividers of my
CH. Yield thee to women, albeit that thou lovest them not.
ET. Say ye then what one may allow you; but it must not be at length.
CH. Go not thou on in this way to the seventh gate.
ET. Whetted as I am, thou wilt not blunt me by argument.
CH. Yet god, at all events, honors an inglorious victory.
ET. It ill becomes a warrior to acquiesce in this advice.
CH. What! wilt thou shed the blood of thine own brother?
ET. By heaven's leave, he shall not elude destruction.
CH. I shudder with dread that the power that lays waste this house, not
like the gods, the all-true, the evil-boding Erinnys summoned by the
curses of the father, is bringing to a consummation the wrathful curses
of distracted OEdipus. 'Tis this quarrel, fatal to his sons, that
arouses her. And the Chalybian stranger, emigrant from Scythia, is
apportioning their shares, a fell divider of possessions, the
stern-hearted steel, allotting them land to occupy, just as much
as it may be theirs to possess when dead, bereft of their large
domains. When they shall have fallen, slain by each other's hands
in mutual slaughter, and the dust of the ground shall have drunk up the
black-clotted blood of murder, who will furnish expiation? who will
purify them? Alas for the fresh troubles mingled with the ancient
horrors of this family! for I speak of the ancient transgression with
its speedy punishment; yet it abides unto the third generation; since
Laïus, in spite of Apollo, who had thrice declared, in the central
oracles of Pytho, that, dying without issue, he would save the
state, did, notwithstanding, overcome by his friends, in his
infatuation beget his own destruction, the parricide OEdipus, who
dared to plant in an unhallowed field, where he had been reared, a
bloody root.--'Twas frenzy linked the distracted pair; and as it were, a
sea of troubles brings on one billow that subsides, and rears another
triply cloven, which too dashes about the stern of our state. But
between [it and us] there stretches a fence at a small interval, a tower
in width alone. And I fear lest the city should be overcome along
with its princes. For the execrations, that were uttered long ago, are
finding their accomplishment: bitter is the settlement, and deadly
things in their consummation pass not away. The wealth of enterprising
merchants, too thickly stowed, brings with it a casting overboard
from the stern. For whom of mortals did the gods, and his fellow-inmates
in the city, and the many lives of herding men, admire so much as
they then honored OEdipus, who had banished from the realm the baneful
pest that made men her prey. But when he unhappy was apprised of his
wretched marriage, despairing in his sorrow, with frenzied heart, he
perpetrated a two-fold horror; he deprived himself with parricidal hand
of the eyes that were more precious than his children. And indignant
because of his scanty supply of food, he sent upon his sons, alas!
alas! a curse horrible in utterance, even that they should some time or
other share his substance between them with sword-wielding hand; and now
I tremble lest the swift Erinnys should be on the point of fulfilling
Be of good cheer, maidens that have been nurtured by your mothers.
This city hath escaped the yoke of servitude; the vauntings of our
mighty foes have fallen; and our city is calm, and hath not admitted a
leak from the many buffets of the surge; our fortification too stands
proof, and we have fenced our gates with champions fighting
single-handed, and bringing surety; for the most part, at six of our
gates, it is well; but the seventh, the revered lord of the seventh,
sovereign Apollo, chose for himself, bringing to a consummation the
ancient indiscretions of Laïus.
CH. And what new event is happening to our city?
MES. These men have fallen by hands that dealt mutual slaughter.--
CH. Who? What is it thou sayest! I am distracted with terror at thy
MES. Now be calm and listen, the race of OEdipus--
CH. Alas for me wretched! I am a prophetess of horrors.
MES. Stretched in the dust are they beyond all dispute.
CH. Came they even to that? bitter then are thy tidings, yet speak them.
MES. Even thus [too surely] were they destroyed by brotherly hands.
CH. Even thus was the demon at once impartial to both.
MES. And he himself, to be sure of this, is cutting off the ill-fated
CH. Over such events one may both rejoice and weep--[rejoice] at the
success of our city--but [mourn because] our princes, the two
generals, have portioned out the whole possession of their substance
with the hammer-wrought Scythian steel, and they will possess of land
just as much as they receive at their burial, carried off according to
the unhappy imprecations of their sire.
MES. The city is rescued, but earth hath drank the blood of the brother
princes through their slaughter of each other.
CH. Oh mighty Jove! and tutelary divinities of our city! ye that do in
very deed protect these towers of Cadmus, am I to rejoice and raise a
joyous hymn to the savior of our city, the averter of mischief, or shall
I bewail the miserable and ill-fated childless commanders, who, in
very truth, correctly, according to their name, full of rancor,
have perished in impious purpose? Oh dark and fatal curse of the race
and of OEdipus, what horrible chill is this that is falling upon my
heart? I, like a Thyiad, have framed a dirge for the tomb, hearing
of the dead, dabbled in blood, that perished haplessly--verily this
meeting of spears was ill-omened. The imprecation of the father hath
taken full effect, and hath not failed: and the unbelieving schemes of
Laïus have lasted even until now; and care is through our city, and the
divine declarations lose not their edge--Alas! worthy of many a sigh, ye
have accomplished this horror surpassing credence; and lamentable
sufferings have come indeed. This is self-evident, the tale of the
messenger is before my eyes--Double are our sorrows, double are the
horrors of them that have fallen by mutual slaughter; doubly shared are
these consummated sufferings. What shall I say? What, but that of a
certainty troubles on troubles are constant inmates of this house? But,
my friends, ply the speeding stroke of your hands about your heads,
before the gale of sighs, which ever wafts on its passage the bark, on
which no sighs are heard, with sable sails, the freighted with the dead,
untrodden for Apollo, the sunless, across Acheron, and to the invisible
But [enough]! for here are coming to this bitter office both Antigone
and Ismene. I am assured beyond all doubt that they will send forth a
fitting wail from their lovely deep-cinctured bosoms. And right it is
that we, before the sound of their wailing reach us, both ejaculate the
dismal-sounding chaunt of Erinnys, and sing a hateful pæan to Pluto.
Alas! ye that are the most hapless in your sisterhood of all women that
fling the zone around their robes, I weep, I mourn, and there is no
guile about so as not to be truly wailing from my very soul.
SEMI-CHORUS. Alas! alas! ye frantic youths, distrustful of friends, and
unsubdued by troubles, have wretched seized on your paternal dwelling
with the spear.
SEMI-CH. Wretched in sooth were they who found a wretched death to the
bane of their houses.
SEMI-CH. Alas! alas! ye that overthrew the walls of your palace, and
having cast an eye on bitter monarchy, how have ye now settled your
claims with the steel?
SEMI-CH. And too truly hath awful Erinnys brought [the curses] of their
father OEdipus to a consummation.
SEMI-CH. Smitten through your left--Smitten in very truth, and through
sides that sprung from a common womb.
SEMI-CH. Alas for them, wretched! Alas! for the imprecations of death
which avenged murder by murder.
SEMI-CH. Thou speakest of the stroke that pierced through and through
those that were smitten in their houses and in their persons with
speechless rage, and the doom of discord brought upon them by the curses
of their father.
SEMI-CH. And moreover, sighing pervades the city, the towers sigh, the
land that loved her heroes sighs; and for posterity remains the
substance by reason of which, by reason of which, contention came
upon them whom evil destiny, and the issue of death.
SEMI-CH. In the fierceness of their hearts they divided between them
the possessions, so as to have an equal share; but the arbiter
escapes not censure from their friends, and joyless was their warfare.
SEMI-CH. Smitten by the steel, here they lie; and smitten by the
steel there await them--one may perchance ask what?--the
inheritance of the tombs of their fathers.
SEMI-CH. From the house the piercing groan sends forth its sound loudly
over them, mourning with a sorrow sufferings as o'er its own,
melancholy, a foe to mirth, sincerely weeping from the very soul, which
is worn down while I wail for these two princes.
SEMI-CH. We may say too of these happy men that they both wrought many
mischiefs to their countrymen, and to the ranks of all the strangers,
that perished in great numbers in battle.
SEMI-CH. Ill-fated was she that bare them before all women, as many as
are mothers of children. Having taken to herself her own son for a
husband, she brought forth these, and they have ended their existence
thus by fraternal hands that dealt mutual slaughter.
SEMI-CH. Fraternal in very truth! and utterly undone were they by a
severing in no wise amicable, by frenzied strife at the consummation of
SEMI-CH. But their emnity is terminated; and in the reeking earth is
their life-blood mingled, and truly are they of the same blood. A bitter
arbiter of strife is the stranger from beyond the sea, the whetted steel
that bounded forth from the fire; and bitter is the horrible distributer
of their substance, Mars, who hath brought the curse of their father
truly to its consummation.
SEMI-CH. Hapless youths! They have obtained their portion of
heaven-awarded woes, and beneath their bodies shall be a fathomless
wealth of earth. Alas! ye that have made your houses bloom with
many troubles! And at its fall these Curses raised the shout of triumph
in shrill strain, when the race had been put to flight in total rout; a
trophy of Atè has been reared at the gate at which they smote each
other, and, having overcome both, the demon rested.
_Enter_ ANTIGONE _and_ ISMENE.
ANT. When wounded thou didst wound again.
ISM. And thou, having dealt death, didst perish.
ANT. With the spear thou didst slay.
ISM. By the spear thou didst fall.
ANT. Wretched in thy deeds!
ISM. Wretched in thy sufferings!
ANT. Let tears arise.
ISM. Let groans resound.
ANT. Having slain, he shall lie prostrate. Alas! alas! my soul is
maddening with sighs.
ISM. And my heart mourns within me.
ANT. Alas! thou that art worthy of all lamentation!
ISM. And thou again also utterly wretched.
ANT. By a friend didst thou fall.
ISM. And a friend didst thou slay.
ANT. Double horrors to tell of.
ISM. Double horrors to behold!
ANT. These horrors are near akin to such sorrows.
ISM. And we their sisters here are near to our brothers.
CH. Alas! thou Destiny, awarder of bitterness, wretched! and thou dread
shade of OEdipus! and dark Erinnys! verily art thou great in might.
ANT. Alas! alas! sufferings dismal to behold hath he shown to me after
ANT. And he returned not when he had slain him.
ISM. No--but after being saved he lost his life.
ANT. In very truth he lost it.
ISM. Ay, and he cut off his brother.
ANT. Wretched family!
ISM. That hath endured wretchedness. Woes that are wretched and of one
name. Thoroughly steeped in three-fold sufferings.
ANT. Deadly to tell--
ISM. Deadly to look on.
CH. Alas! alas! thou Destiny, awarder of bitterness, wretched! and thou
dread shade of OEdipus! and dark Erinnys! verily art thou great in
ANT. Thou in sooth knowest this by passing through it.
ISM. And so dost thou, having learned it just as soon as he.
ANT. After that thou didst return to the city.
ISM. An antagonist too to this man here in battle-fray.
ANT. Deadly to tell.
ISM. Deadly to look on.
ANT. Alas! the trouble.
ISM. Alas! the horrors upon our family and our land, and me above all.
ANT. Alas! alas! and me, be sure, more than all.
ISM. Alas! alas! for the wretched horrors! O sovereign Eteocles, our
ANT. Alas! ye most miserable of all men.
ISM. Alas! ye possessed by Atè.
ANT. Alas! alas! where in the land shall we place them both? Alas! in
the spot that is most honorable. Alas! alas! a woe fit to sleep beside
'Tis my duty to announce the good pleasure and the decree of the
senators of the people of this city of Cadmus. It is resolved to bury
this body of Eteocles for his attachment to his country, with the dear
interment in earth! for in repelling our foes he met death in the city,
and being pure in respect to the sacred rites of his country, blameless
hath he fallen where 'tis glorious for the young to fall; thus, indeed,
hath it been commissioned me to announce concerning this corpse: But [it
has been decreed] to cast out unburied, a prey for dogs, this the corpse
of his brother Polynices, inasmuch as he would have been the overturner
of the land of Cadmus, if some one of the gods had not stood in
opposition to his spear: and even now that he is dead, he will lie under
the guilt of pollution with the gods of his country, whom he having
dishonored was for taking the city by bringing against it a foreign
host. So it is resolved that he, having been buried dishonorably by
winged fowls, should receive his recompense, and that neither piling up
by hands of the mound over his tomb should follow, nor any one honor him
with shrill-voiced wailings, but that he be ungraced with a funeral at
the hands of his friends. Such is the decree of the magistracy of the
ANT. But I say to the rulers of the Cadmæans, if not another single
person is willing to take part with me in burying him, I will bury him,
and will expose myself to peril by burying my brother. And I feel
no shame at being guilty of this disobedient insubordination against the
city. Powerful is the tie of the common womb from which we sprung, from
a wretched mother and a hapless sire. Wherefore, my soul, do thou,
willing with the willing share in his woes, with the dead, thou living,
with sisterly feeling--and nought shall lean-bellied wolves tear his
flesh--let no one suppose it. All woman though I be, I will contrive a
tomb and a deep-dug grave for him, bearing earth in the bosom-fold of
my fine linen robe, and I myself will cover him; let none imagine the
contrary: an effective scheme shall aid my boldness.
HER. I bid thee not to act despite the state in this matter.
ANT. I bid thee not announce to me superfluous things.
HER. Yet stern is a people that has just escaped troubles.
ANT. Ay, call it stern--yet this [corpse] shall not lie unburied.
HER. What! wilt thou honor with a tomb him whom our state abhors?
HER. ANT. Heretofore he has not been honored by the gods.
HER. Not so, at least before he put this realm in jeopardy.
ANT. Having suffered injuriously he repaid with injury.
HER. Ay, but this deed of his fell on all instead of one.
ANT. Contention is the last of the gods to finish a dispute, and I
will bury him; make no more words.
HER. Well, take thine own way--yet I forbid thee.
CH. Alas! alas! O ye fatal Furies, proudly triumphant, and destructive
to this race, ye that have ruined the family of OEdipus from its root.
What will become of me? What shall I do? What can I devise? How shall I
have the heart neither to bewail thee nor to escort thee to the tomb?
But I dread and shrink from the terror of the citizens. Thou, at all
events, shalt in sooth have many mourners; but he, wretched one, departs
unsighed for, having the solitary-wailing dirge of his sister. Who will
agree to this?
SEM. Let the state do or not do aught to those who bewail Polynices. We,
on this side will go and join to escort his funeral procession; for both
this sorrow is common to the race, and the state at different times
sanctions different maxims of justice.
SEM. But we will go with this corpse, as both the city and justice join
to sanction. For next to the Immortals and the might of Jove, this man
prevented the city of the Cadmæans from being destroyed, and thoroughly
overwhelmed by the surge of foreign enemies.
 Lucian, in his dialogue entitled "Prometheus," or
"Caucasus," has given occasional imitations of passages in
this play, not, however, sufficient to amount to a
paraphrase, as Dr. Blomfield asserted. Besides, as Lucian
lays the scene at Caucasus, he would rather seem to have
had the "Prometheus solutus" in mind. (See Schutz, Argum.)
But the ancients commonly made Caucasus the seat of the
punishment of Prometheus, and, as Æschylus is not over
particular in his geography, it is possible that he may be
not altogether consistent with himself. Lucian makes no
mention of Strength and Force, but brings in Mercury at
the beginning of the dialogue. Moreover, Mercury is
represented in an excellent humor, and rallies Prometheus
good-naturedly upon his tortures. Thus, §6, he says,
[Greek: eu echei. kataptêsetai de êdê kai ho aetos
apokerôn to hêpar, hôs panta echois anti tês kalês kai
eumêchanou plastikês.] In regard to the place where
Prometheus was bound, the scene doubtless represented a
ravine between two precipices rent from each other, with a
distant prospect of some of the places mentioned in the
wanderings of Io. (See Schutz, _ibid._) But as the whole
mention of Scythia is an anachronism, the less said on
this point the better. Compare, however, the following
remarks of Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. ii. p. 140, "The legend
of Prometheus, and the unbinding of the chains of the
fire-bringing Titan on the Caucasus by Hercules in
journeying eastward--the ascent of Io from the valley of
the Hybrites--[See Griffiths' note on v. 717, on [Greek:
hybristês potamos], which _must_ be a proper name]--toward
the Caucasus; and the myth of Phryxus and Helle--all point
to the same path on which Phoenician navigators had
 Dindorf, in his note, rightly approves the elegant
reading [Greek: abroton (=apanthrôpon)] in lieu of the
frigid [Greek: abaton]. See Blomf. and Burges. As far as
this play is concerned, the tract was not actually
_impassable_, but it was so to _mortals_.
 [Greek: leôrgos = rhadiourgos, panourgos, kakourgos].
Cf. Liddell and Linwood, s. v. The interpretation and
derivation of the etym. magn. [Greek: ho tôn anthrôpôn
plastês], is justly rejected by Dindorf, who remarks that
Æschylus paid no attention to the fable respecting
Prometheus being the maker of mankind.
 The epithet [Greek: pantechnou], which might perhaps
be rendered "art-full," is explained by v. 110 and 254.
 See Jelf. Gk. Gr. §720, 2d.
 There seems little doubt that [Greek: euôriazein] is
the right reading. Its ironical force answers to Terence's
 I have spelled Sire in all places with a capital
letter, as Jove is evidently meant. See my note on v. 49.
 This is not a mere zeugma, but is derived from the
supposition that sight was the chief of the senses, and in
a manner included the rest. (Cf. Plato Tim. p. 533, C. D.)
See the examples adduced by the commentators. Schrader on
Musæus 5, and Boyes, Illustrations to Sept. c. Th. 98.
Shakespeare has burlesqued this idea in his exquisite
buffoonery, Midsummer Night's Dream, Act v. sc. 1.
_Pyramus._ I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
 Claudian de rapt. Pros. II. 363. "Stellantes nox picta
sinus." See on Soph. Trach. 94.
 _I.e._, having no rest. Soph. OEd. Col. 19. [Greek:
kôla kampson toud' ep' axestou petrou].
 The difficulties of this passage have been increased
by no one of the commentators perceiving the evident
opposition between [Greek: Theoi] and [Greek: Zeus]. As in
the formula [Greek: ô Zeu kai Theoi] (cf. Plato Protag.
p. 193, E.; Aristoph. Plut. I. with Bergler's note; Julian
Cæs. p. 51, 59, 76; Dionys. Hal. A. R. II. p. 80, 32-81,
20, ed. Sylb.) so, from the time of Homer downward, we
find [Greek: Zeus] constantly mentioned apart from the
other gods (cf. Il. I. 423, 494), and so also with his
epithet [Greek: patêr], as in v. 4, 17, 20, etc.
(Eustath, on Il. T. I., p. 111, 30, [Greek: hoti Zeus
allachou men haplôs patêr elechthê]). There is evidently,
therefore, the opposition expressed in the text: "'Tis not
for the other gods (_i.e._ [Greek: tois allois theois]) to
rule, but for Jove alone." This view was approved, but not
confirmed, by Paley.
 See Dindorf.
 Paley well observes that there is no objection to
this interpretation, for if Prometheus could endure the
daily gnawing of his entrails by the vulture, the rivets
wouldn't put him to much trouble. Lucian, § 6, is content
with fastening his hands to the two sides of the chasm.
 [Greek: tychês] is retained by Dindorf, but [Greek:
technês] is defended by Griffiths and Paley. I think, with
Burges, that it is a gloss upon [Greek: Promêtheôs].
 So Milton, P. L. iv. 165.
Cheer'd with the grateful smell old Ocean _smiles_.
Lord Byron (opening of the Giaour):
There mildly _dimpling_ Ocean's cheek Reflects the tints
of many a peak, Caught by the _laughing_ tides that lave
Those Edens of the eastern wave.
 Literally "filling a rod," [Greek: plêrôtos] here
being active. Cf. Agam. 361, [Greek: atês panalôtou].
Choeph. 296, [Greek: pamphthartô morô]. Pers. 105, [Greek:
polemous pyrgodaïktous]. See also Blomfield, and Porson on
Hes. 1117, [Greek: narthêx] is "ferula" or "fennel-giant,"
the pith of which makes excellent fuel. Blomfield quotes
Proclus on Hesiod, Op. 1, 52, "the [Greek: narthêx]
preserves flame excellently, having a soft pith inside,
that nourishes, but can not extinguish the flame." For a
strange fable connected with this theft, see Ælian Hist.
An. VI. 51.
 On the preternatural scent supposed to attend the
presence of a deity, cf Eur. Hippol. 1391, with Monk's
note, Virg. Æn. I. 403, and La Cerda. See also Boyes's
 On [Greek: dê] cf. Jelf, Gk. Gr. § 723, 2.
 Elmsley's reading, [Greek: petra ... tade], is
preferred by Dindorf, and seems more suitable to the
passage. But if we read [Greek: taisde], it will come to
the same thing, retaining [Greek: petrais].
 Surely we should read this sentence interrogatively,
as in v. 99, [Greek: pê pote mochthôn Chrê termata tônd'
epiteilai;] although the editions do not agree as to that
passage. So Burges.
 Nominativus Pendens. Soph, Antig. 259, [Greek: logoi
d' en allêloisin errothoun kakoi, phylax elenchôn
phylaka], where see Wunder, and Elmsley on Eur. Heracl.
40. But it is probably only the [Greek: schêma kath' holon
kai meros], on which see Jelf, Gk. Gr. § 478, and the same
thing takes place with the accusative, as in Antig. 21,
sq. 561. See Erfurdt on 21.
 See Linwood's Lexicon, s. v. [Greek: ameibô], whose
construing I have followed.
 Cf. Virg. Æn. I. 167, "Intus aquæ dulces, vivoque
"The rudest habitation, ye might think
That it had sprung from earth self-raised, or grown
Out of the living rock."--Wordsworth's Excursion,
Compare a most picturesque description of Diana's cave, in
Apul. Met. II. p. 116; Elm. Telemachus, Book I.; Undine,
ch. viii.; Lane's Arabian Nights, vol. iii. p. 385.
 Although Dindorf has left [Greek: ÔKEANOS] before the
lines beginning with [Greek: ou dêta], yet as he in his
notes, p. 54, approves of the opinion of Elmsley (to which
the majority of critics assent), I have continued them to
Prometheus. Dindorf (after Burges) remarks that the
particles [Greek: ou dêta] deceived the copyists, who
thought that they pointed to the commencement of a new
speaker's address. He quotes Soph. OEd. C. 433; Eur.
Alcest. 555; Heracl. 507, sqq., where it is used as a
continuation of a previous argument, as in the present
 It has been remarked that Æschylus had Pindar in
mind, see Pyth. I. 31, and VIII. 20. On this fate of
Enceladus cf. Philostrat. de V. Apoll. V. 6; Apollodorus
I.; Hygin. Fab. 152; and for poetical descriptions,
Cornel. Severus Ætna, 70, "Gurgite Trinacrio morientem
Jupiter Ætna Obruit Enceladum, vasti qui pondere montis
Æstuat, et patulis exspirat faucibus ignes." Virg. Æn.
III. 578; Valer. Flacc. II. 24; Ovid. Met. V. Fab. V. 6;
Claudian, de raptu Pros. I. 155; Orph. Arg. 1256. Strabo,
I. p. 42, makes Hesiod acquainted with these eruptions.
(See Goettling on Theog. 821.) But Prometheus here utters
a prophecy concerning an eruption that really took place
during the life of Æschylus, Ol. 75, 2, B.C. 479. Cf.
Thucydides III. 116; Cluver, Sicil. Antig. p. 104, and
Dindorf's clear and learned note. There can be little
doubt but Enceladus and Typhon are only different names
for the same monster. Burges has well remarked the
resemblance between the Egyptian Typho and the Grecian,
and considers them both as "two outward forms of one
internal idea, representing the destructive principle of
matter opposed to the creative." I shall refer the reader
to Plutarch's entertaining treatise on Isis and Osiris;
but to quote authorities from Herodotus down to the
Apologetic Fathers, would be endless.
 I think, notwithstanding the arguments of Dindorf,
that [Greek: orgês nosousês] means "a mind distempered,"
and that [Greek: logoi] mean "arguments, reasonings."
Boyes, who always shows a _poetical_ appreciation of his
author, aptly quotes Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. 2, c. 8,
"Words well dispost,
Have secrete powre t' appease inflamed rage."
And Samson Agonistes:
"Apt words have power to swage
The tumors of a troubled mind."
The reading of Plutarch, [Greek: psychês] appears to be a
 Intellige _audaciam prudentiâ
 [Greek: aichma] is rendered "indoles" by Paley (see
on Ag. 467). Linwood by "authority," which is much nearer
the truth, as the spear was anciently used for the
sceptre. Mr. Burges opportunely suggests Pindar's [Greek:
enchos zakoton], which he gives to Jupiter, Nem. vi. 90.
 Asia is here personified.
 All commentators, from the scholiast downward, are
naturally surprised at this mention of Arabia, when
Prometheus is occupied in describing the countries
bordering on the Euxine. Burges conjectures [Greek:
Abarios], which he supports with considerable learning.
But although the name [Greek: Abarides] (mentioned by
Suidas) might well be given to those who dwelt in unknown
parts of the earth, from the legendary travels of Abaris
with his arrow, yet the epithet [Greek: areion anthos]
seems to point to some really existing nation, while
[Greek: Abaries] would rather seem proverbial. Till, then,
we are more certain, Æschylus must still stand chargeable
with geographical inconsistency.
 I have followed Burges and Dindorf, although the
latter retains [Greek: akamantodetois] in his text.
 Why Dindorf should have adopted Hermann's frigid
[Greek: hypostegazei], is not easily seen. The reader
will, however, find Griffiths' foot-note well deserving of
 On [Greek: prouseloumenon], see Dindorf.
 Among the mythographi discovered by Maii, and
subsequently edited by Bode, the reader will find some
allegorical explanations of these benefits given by
Prometheus. See Myth. primus I. 1, and tertius 3, 10, 9.
They are, however, little else than compilations from the
commentary of Servius on Virgil, and the silly, but
amusing, mythology of Fulgentius. On the endowment of
speech and reason to men by Prometheus, cf. Themist. Or.
xxxvi. p. 323, C. D. and xxvi. p. 338, C. ed. Hard.; and
for general illustrations, the notes of Wasse on Sallust,
Cat. sub init.
 Brick-building is first ascribed to Euryalus and
Hyperbius, two brothers at Athens, by Pliny, H. N. vii.
56, quoted by Stanley. After caves, huts of beams, filled
in with turf-clods, were probably the first dwellings of
men. See Mallet's Northern Antiquities, p. 217, ed. Bohn.
This whole passage has been imitated by Moschion apud
Stob. Ecl. Phys. I. 11, while the early reformation of men
has ever been a favorite theme for poets. Cf. Eurip.
Suppl. 200 sqq.; Manilius I. 41, sqq.; and Bronkhus, on
Tibull. I. 3, 35.
 Cf. Apul de Deo Socr. § II. ed. meæ, "quos probe
callet, qui signorum ortus et obitus comprehendit,"
Catullus (in a poem imitated from Callimachus) carm. 67,
1. "Omnia qui magni dispexit lumina mundi, Qui stellarum
ortus comperit atque obitus." See on Agam. 7.
 On the following discoveries consult the learned and
entertaining notes of Stanley.
 [Greek: êgagon philênious], i.e. [Greek: hôste
 See the elaborate notes of Blomfield and Burges, from
whence all the other commentators have derived their
information. [Greek: Krasis] is what Scribonius Largus
calls "compositio." Cf. Rhodii Lexicon Scribon, p. 364-5;
Serenus Sammonicus "synthesis." The former writer observes
in his preface, p. 2, "est enim hæc pars (compositio,
scilicet) medicinæ ut maxime necessaria, ita certe
antiquissima, et ob hoc primum celebrata atque illustrata.
Siquidem verum est, antiquos herbis ac radicibus earum
corporis vitia curasse."
 Apul. de Deo Socr. § 20, ed. meæ, "ut videmus
plerisque usu venire, qui nimia ominum superstitione, non
suopte corde, sed alterius verbo, reguntur: et per
angiporta reptantes, consilia ex alienis vocibus
colligunt." Such was the voice that appeared to Socrates.
See Plato Theog. p. 11. A. Xenoph. Apol. 12; Proclus in
Alcib. Prim. 13, p. 41. Creuz. See also Stanley's note.
 On these augurial terms see Abresch.
 Although the Vatican mythologist above quoted
observes of Prometheus, "deprehendit præterea rationem
fulminum, et hominibus indicavit--" I should nevertheless
follow Stanley and Blomfield, in understanding these words
to apply to the omens derived from the flame and smoke
ascending from the sacrifices.
 Cf. Herodot. I. 91, quoted by Blomfield: [Greek: tên
peprômenên moirên adynata esti apophygeein kai tô theô].
On this Pythagorean notion of Æschylus see Stanley.
 Or, "in pleasure at the nuptials." See Linwood.
Burges: "for the one-ness of marriage."
 No clew is given as to the form in which Io was
represented on the stage. In v. 848, the promise [Greek:
entautha dê se Zeus tithêsin emphrona] does not imply any
bodily change, but that Io labored under a mental
delusion. Still the mythologists are against us, who agree
in making her transformation complete. Perhaps she was
represented with horns, like the Egyptian figures of Isis,
but in other respects as a virgin, which is somewhat
confirmed by v. 592, [Greek: klyeis phthegma tas boukerô
 "Gad-fly" or "brize." See the commentators.
 On the discrepancies of reading, see Dind. With the
whole passage compare Nonnus, Dionys. III. p. 62,2.
[Greek: taurophyês hote portis ameibomenoio prosôpou
eis agelên agraulos elauneto synnomos Iô.
kai damalês agrypnon ethêkato boukolon Hêrê
poikilon aplaneessi kekasmenon Argon opôpais
Zênos opipeutêra bookrairôn hymenaiôn.
Zênos athêêtoio kai es nomon êïe kourê,
ophthalmous tromeousa polyglênoio nomêos.
gyioborô de myôpi charassomenê demas Iô
Ioniês [halos] oidma kategraphe phoitadi chêlê.
êlthe kai eis Aigypton]--
This writer, who constantly has the Athenian dramatists in
view, pursues the narrative of Io's wanderings with an
evident reference to Æschylus. See other illustrations
from the poets in Stanley's notes.
 The ghost of Argus was doubtless whimsically
represented, but probably without the waste of flour that
is peculiar to modern stage spectres. Perhaps, as Burges
describes, "a mute in a dress resembling a peacock's tail
expanded, and with a Pan's pipe slung to his side, which
ever and anon he seems to sound; and with a goad in his
hand, mounted at one end with a representation of a hornet
or gad-fly." But this phantom, like Macbeth's dagger, is
supposed to be in the mind only. With a similar idea
Apuleius, Apol. p. 315, ed. Elm. invokes upon Æmilianus in
the following mild terms: "At ... semper obvias species
mortuorum, quidquid umbrarum est usquam, quidquid lemurum,
quidquid manium, quidquid larvarum oculis tuis oggerat:
omnia noctium occursacula, omnia bustorum formidamina,
omnia sepulchrorum terriculamenta, a quibus tamen ævo
emerito haud longe abes."
 I have followed Dindorf's elegant emendation. See his
note, and Blomf. on Ag. 1.
 After the remarks of Dindorf and Paley, it seems that
the above must be the sense, whether we read [Greek: hôn]
with Hermann, or take [Greek: hôs] for [Greek: ê hôs] with
the above mentioned editor.
 Paley remarks that [Greek: tas pol. tychas] is used in
the same manner as in Pers. 453, [Greek:
phtharentes]="shipwrecked" (see his note), or "wandering."
He renders the present passage "the adventures of her long
 With the earlier circumstances of this narrative
compare the beautiful story of Psyche in Apuleius, Met.
IV. p. 157, sqq. Elm.
 Cf Ag. 217, [Greek: epei d' anankas edy lepadnon].
 [Greek: krênên] is the elegant conjecture of Canter,
approved by Dindorf. In addition to the remarks of the
commentators, the tradition preserved by Pausanias II. 15,
greatly confirms this emendation. He remarks, [Greek:
therous de aua sphisin esti ta rheumata plên tôn en
Lernê]. It was probably somewhat proverbial.
 I shall not attempt to enter into the much-disputed
geography of Io's wanderings. So much has been said, and
to so little purpose, on this perplexing subject, that to
write additional notes would be only to furnish more
reasons for doubting.
 Probably the Kurban. Schutz well observes that the
words [Greek: ou pseudônymon] could not be applied to an
epithet of the poet's own creation. Such, too, was
Humboldt's idea. See my first note on this play.
 See Schutz and Griffiths.
 Wrapped in mystery as the liberation of Prometheus is
in this drama, it may be amusing to compare the following
extracts from the Short Chronicle prefixed to Sir I.
"968. B.C. Sesak, having carried on his victories to Mount
Caucasus, leaves his nephew Prometheus there, to guard the
"937. The Argonautic expedition. Prometheus leaves Mount
Caucasus, being set at liberty by Hercules," etc.--Old
 Stanley compares Pindar, Isth. vii. 33.
----[Greek: peprômenon ên pherteron
gonon [hoi] anakta patros tekein].
And Apoll. Rhod. iv. 201. Also the words of Thetis herself
in Nonnus, Dionys. xxxiii. 356.
[Greek: Zeus me patêr ediôke kai êthelen es gamon helkein,
ei mê min potheonta gerôn anekopte Promêtheus,
thespizôn Kroniônos areiona paida phyteusai].
 "These were; 1. Epaphus; 2. Lybia; 3. Belus; 4.
Danaus; 5. Hypermnestra; 6. Abas; 7. Proetus; 8.
Acrisius; 9. Danae; 10. Perseus; 11. Electryon; 12.
Alcmena; 13. Hercules."--Blomfield.
 For two ways of supplying the lacuna in this
description of Io's travels, see Dindorf and Paley.
 Being turned into stone. Such was the punishment of
the fire-worshipers in the story of the first Lady of
Baghdad. See Arabian Nights, Vol. I., p. 198. The
mythico-geographical allusions in the following lines have
been so fully and so learnedly illustrated, that I shall
content myself with referring to the commentators.
 See Linwood's Lexicon and Griffiths' note.
 There is still much doubt about the elision [Greek:
esesth', ei]. Others read the passage interrogatively. See
Griffiths and Dindorf.
 This pun upon the name of Epaphus is preserved by
Moschus II. 50.
[Greek: en d' ên Zeus, epaphômenos êrema cheiri theeiê
portios Inachiês. tên heptaporô para Neilô
ek boos eukeraoio palin metameibe gynaika.]
and Nonnus, III. p. 62, 20:
[Greek: enth' Epaphon dii tikten akêrasiôn hoti kolpôn
Inachiês damalês epaphêsato theios akoitês
 There is much difficulty in this passage. Dindorf
understands [Greek: ekeinôn] (Ægypti filiorum), and so
Paley, referring to his notes on Ag. 938, Suppl. 437. Mr.
Jelf, Gk. Gr., § 696, Obs. 3, appears to take the same
view. There does not, therefore, seem any need of
alteration. On the other interpretation sometimes given to
[Greek: phthonon hixei sômatôn], see Linwood, v. [Greek:
 [Greek: sphagaisi] is rightly rendered "in jugulo" by
Blomfield, after Ruhnk. Ep. Crit. I. p. 71. To the
examples quoted add Apul. Met. I. p. 108, "per jugulum
sinistrum capulotenus gladium totum ei demergit," and p.
110, "jugulo ejus vulnus dehiscit in patorem," The
expression [Greek: nyktiphrourêtô thrasei] is well
illustrated by the words of Nonnus, I. c. p. 64, 17.
[Greek: kai kryphiois xipheessi sidêrophorôn epi lektrôn
arsena gymnon Arêa kateunase thêlys Enyô].
 See Nonnus I. c. Ovid, ep. xiv. 51, sqq.
"Sed timor, et pietas crudelibus obstitit ausis:
Castaque mandatum dextra refugit opus."
 On [Greek: sphakelos] see Ruhnk. Tim. p. 123, and
 See Paley. [Greek: a] is never intensive.
 On this admonition, generally attributed to Pittacus,
see Griffiths, and for a modern illustration in the
miseries of Sir John Anvil (or Enville), Knt., the
Spectator, No. 299.
 Paley would supply [Greek: potniai] to complete the
 I have followed Griffiths.
 Dindorf would throw out [Greek: aphobos], Paley
[Greek: ou dedia], remarking that the sense appears to
require [Greek: hote].
 _I.e._ possessing resources even among
impossibilities. Cf. Antig. 360. [Greek: aporos ep' ouden
erchetai], and for the construction, Jelf, Gk. Gr. §
581, 2. obs.
 I think Elmsley has settled the question in favor of
[Greek: toion] for [Greek: hoion].
 "In Æschylus we seem to read the vehement language of
an old servant of exploded Titanism: with him Jupiter and
the Olympians are but a new dynasty, fresh and exulting,
insolent and capricious, the victory just gained and yet
but imperfectly secured over the mysterious and venerable
beings who had preceded, TIME, HEAVEN, OCEAN, EARTH and
her gigantic progeny: Jupiter is still but half the
monarch of the world; his future fall is not obscurely
predicted, and even while he reigns, a gloomy irresistible
destiny controls his power."--Quart. Rev. xxviii, 416.
 Milton, Samson Agon.
_Dalilah._ "I see thou art implacable, more deaf
To prayers than winds or seas."
Merchant of Venice, Act 4, sc. 1.
"You may as well go stand upon the beach
And bid the main flood bate his usual height."
See Schrader on Musæus, 320.
 See Linwood's Lexicon. Cf. Nonnus, Dionys. II. p. 45,
[Greek: desma phygôn dolomêtis homartêseie Promêtheus,
hêpatos hêbôontos apheidea daitymonêa
ouraniês thrasyn ornin echôn pompêa keleuthou].
 I have adopted Dindorf's emendation. See his note.
 How the cosmoramic effects here described were
represented on the stage, it is difficult to say, but such
descriptions are by no means rare in the poets. Compare
Musæus, 314, sqq. Lucan, I. 75 sqq. and a multitude in the
notes of La Cerda on Virgil, Æn. I. 107, and Barthius on
Claudian. Gigant. 31, sqq. Nonnus, Dionys. I. p. 12.
 Or, "of which may Jove the Averter be what his name
imports." See Paley and Linwood's Lex.
 This interpretation is now fully established, See
Paley. Thus Cæsar, B. G. I. 29, "qui arma ferre possent:
et item separatius pueri, senes;" II. 28, Eteocles wishes
even the [Greek: achreioi] to assist in the common
 [Greek: pistoi] is to be supplied with [Greek:
 Although [Greek: botêr] may be compared with the
Roman _pullarius_, yet the phrase is here probably only
equivalent to [Greek: despotês manteumatôn] soon after.
 Paley prefers "nocturno concilio agitari," comparing
Rhes. 88, [Greek: tas sas pros eunas phylakes
elthontes phobô nyktêgorousi]. On the authority of
Griffiths, I have supplied [Greek: tous Achaious] before
 See my note on Prom. 863.
 See commentators.
 Cf. Jelf. Gk. Gr. § 566, 2.
 See Linwood, s.v. [Greek: stephein]. Paley compares
v. 267, [Greek: Laphyra daôn douriplêchth' hagnois domois
Stepsô pro naôn]. Adrastus alone had been promised a safe
 Cf. Eum. 515, [Greek: oikton oiktisaito], _would
utter cries of pity_. Suppl. 59, [Greek: oikton oiktron
aïôn], _hearing one mournful piteous cry_. The old
translations rendered it, "no regret was expressed on
 Perhaps we might render [Greek: phraxai], _dam_, in
order to keep up the metaphor of the ship. Cf. Hom. Od. V.
346, [Greek: phraxe de min rhipessi diamperes oisyinêsi].
The closing the ports of a vessel to keep out the water
will best convey the meaning to modern readers.
 This seems the true meaning of [Greek: ephestios],
_indigenous in Greece_, as Blomfield interprets, quoting
Hesych, [Greek: ephestios, autochthôn, enoikos], II. B.
125, etc. An Athenian audience, with their political
jealousy of Asiatic influence, and pride of indigenous
origin, would have appreciated this prayer as heartily as
the one below, v. 158, [Greek: polin doriponon mê prodôth'
Heterophônô stratô], which their minds would connect with
more powerful associations than the mere provincial
differences of Boeotia and Argos. How great a stress was
laid upon the ridicule of foreign dialect, may be seen
from the reception of Pseudartabas in the Acharnians.
 Cf. Arist. Rhet. II. 17, 6. The same sentiment,
though expressed the contrary way, occurs in Eur. Troad.
26, [Greek: Erêmia gar polin hotan labê kakê, Nosei ta tôn
theôn oude timasthai thelei].
 The chorus survey the surrounding plains from a high
part of the Acropolis of Thebes, as Antigone from the top
of the palace in the Phoenissæ of Euripides, v. 103,
 [Greek: prodromos]=_so as to be foremost_. Cf. Soph.
Antig. 108, [Greek: phygada prodromon oxyterô kinêsasa
 This passage is undoubtedly corrupt, but Dindorf's
conjecture [Greek: hele d' emas phrenas deos; hoplôn ktypos
potichrimptetai, dia pedon boa potatai, bremei d']--,
although ingenious, differs too much from the _ductus
literarum_, to be considered safe. Paley from the
interpretation of the Medicean MS. and the reading of
Robortelli, [Greek: eDIDemnas], has conjectured [Greek:
DIA de gas emas pedi' hoploktypou], which seems
preferable. Perhaps we might read [Greek: epi de gas
pedioploktypou ôsin chrimp. boa], by tmesis, for [Greek:
epichrimptetai]. Æschylus used the compound, [Greek:
enchriptesthai], Suppl. 790, and nothing is more common
than such a tmesis. I doubt whether [Greek:
pedioploktypon] is not one of Æschylus' own "high-crested"
compounds. Mr. Burges has kindly suggested a parallel
passage of an anonymous author, quoted by Suidas, s. v.
[Greek: hyparattomenês: hippôn chremetizontôn, tês gês
tois posin autôn hyparattomenês, oulôn synkrouomenôn].
 Cf. Soph. Antig. 106.
 Cf. Virg. _Æn._ I. 479;
"Interea ad templum non æquæ Palladis ibant
Crinibus Iliades passis, peplumque ferebant
Statius, Theb. x. 50:
----"et ad patrias fusæ Pelopeides aras
Sceptriferæ Junonis opem, reditumque suorum
Exposcunt, pictasque fores, et frigida vultu
Saxa terunt, parvosque docent procumbere natos
* * * * *
Peplum etiam dono, cujus mirabile textum," etc.
 Here there is a gap in the metre. See Dindorf.
 "pro vitanda servitute."--Paley.
 Not "at the seven gates," as Valckenaer has clearly
 The paronomasia can only be kept up by rendering,
"do thou, king of wolves, fall with wolf-like fierceness,"
etc. Müller, Dorians, vol. i. p. 325, considers that
[Greek: Lykeios] is connected with [Greek: lykê], _light_,
not with [Greek: lykos], _a wolf_.
 I follow Paley's emendation, [Greek: aütais].
 See a judicious note of Paley's.
 I have borrowed Griffiths' translation. It seems
impossible that [Greek: hagnon telos] could ever be a
personal appeal, while [Greek: sy te] evidently shows that
the address to Pallas Onca was unconnected with the
preceding line. As there is probably a lacuna after
[Greek: Diothen], it is impossible to arrive at any
 See Stanley. [Greek: Onka] is a Phoenician word,
and epithet of Minerva.
 The boys, girls, etc.
 Cf. Eur. Hippol. 1219, sqq.
[Greek: kai despotês men hippikois en êthesi
polys xynoikôn hêrpas' hênias cheroin,
hêlkei de kôpên hôste naubatês anêr].
 _I.e._ to adore the images placed at the head of the
vessel. See Griffiths.
 This far-fetched interpretation of an absurd text is
rightly condemned by W. Dindorf in his note, who elegantly
reads with Lud. Dindorf [Greek: hydasi t' Ismênou]. Paley
has clearly shown the origin of the corruption. Linwood is
equally disinclined to support the common reading.
 Blomfield reads [Greek: egô de g' andras], the
change of [Greek: DEG] to [Greek: DEP] being by no means a
difficult one. Linwood agrees with this alteration, and
Dindorf in his notes. But Paley still defends the common
reading, thinking that [Greek: ep' echthrois] is to be
taken from the following line. I do not think the poet
would have hazarded a construction so doubtful, that we
might take [Greek: epi] either with [Greek: andras],
[Greek: echthrois], or by tmesis, with [Greek: axô].
 The construction of the exegetical accusative is
well illustrated in Jelf's Gk. Gr. § 580, 3.
 I have followed Blomfield, and Dindorf in his notes,
in reading [Greek: kydos toisde politais].
 This is perhaps the sense required; but, with
Dindorf, I can not see how it can be elicited from the
common reading. Perhaps Schneider's [Greek: artitrophois]
is right, which is approved by Dindorf, Linwood, and
 There is the same irregular antithesis between
[Greek: allon agei] and [Greek: ta de (=ta de) pyrphorei];
as in Soph. Ant. 138, [Greek: eiche d' alla ta men, alla d'
ep' allois epenôma--Arês].
 See Elmsl. on Eur. Bacch. 611. I follow Griffiths
 There is much difficulty in the double participle
[Greek: pesôn-kyrêsas]. Dindorf would
altogether omit [Greek: kyrêsas], as a gloss. But surely
[Greek: pesôn] was more likely to be added as a gloss,
than [Greek: kyrêsas]. I think that the fault probably
lies in [Greek: pesôn].
 This passage is scarcely satisfactory, but I have
followed Paley. Perhaps if we place a comma after [Greek:
hyperterou], and treat [Greek: hôs andr. d. hyp. eutych.]
as a genitive absolute, there will be less abruptness,
[Greek: elpis esti] standing for [Greek: elpizousi], by a
 The turgidity of this metaphor is almost too much
even for Æschylus!
 The multitude of interpretations of the common
reading are from their uniform absurdity sufficient to
show that it is corrupt. I have chosen the least
offensive, but am still certain that [Greek: apartizei] is
indefensible. Hermann (who, strange to say, is followed by
Wellauer) reads [Greek: katargizei], Blomfield [Greek:
 Besides Stanley's illustrations, see Pricæus on
Apul. Apol. p. 58. Pelagonius in the Geoponica, XVI. 2,
observes [Greek: agathou de hippou kai touto tekmêrion,
hotan hestêkôs mê anechêtai, alla krotôn tên gên hôsper
trechein epithymê]. St. Macarius Hom. XXIII. 2, [Greek:
epan de mathê (ho hippos) kai synethisthê eis ton polemon,
hotan osphranthê kai akousê phônên polemou, autos hetoimôs
erchetai epi tous echthrous, hôste kai ap' autês tês phônês
ptoêsin empoiein tois polemiois]. Marmion, Canto V.,
"Marmion, like charger in the stall,
That hears without the trumpet's call,
Began to chafe and swear."
 See Boyes' Illustrations, p. 11.
 This seems to be the sense of [Greek: mantis
ennoia]. Blomfield would add [Greek: ennoia] to the
dative, which is easier.
 So Linwood. Justice is styled the near relation of
Melanippus, because he was [Greek: aischrôn argos], v.
406. The scholiast however interprets it [Greek: to tês
 Dindorf's substitution of [Greek: dikaias] for
[Greek: dikaiôs] is no improvement. Paley's [Greek:
dikaios] is more elegant, but there seems little reason
 Probably nothing more than the lightning is meant,
as Blomfield supposes. Paley quotes Eur. Cycl. 328,
[Greek: peplon krouei, Dios brontaisin eis erin ktypôn].
And this agrees with the fate of Capaneus as described in
Soph. Antig. 131, sqq.; Nonnus, XXVIII. p. 480; Eur.
Phoen. 1187, sqq.
 Blomfield compares Eur. Bacch. 733, [Greek: thyrsois
dia cheroin hôplismenas]. But the present construction is
 See Blomfield.
 I follow Blomfield and Paley.
 "We embrace this opportunity of making a grammatical
observation with respect to the older poets, which, to the
best of our knowledge, has not hitherto been noticed by
any grammarian or critic. Wherever a wish or a prayer is
expressed, either by the single optative mood of the verb,
or with [Greek: mê, eithe, ei gar, eithe gar], the verb is
in the second aorist, if it have a distinct second aorist;
otherwise it may be in the present tense, but is more
frequently in the first aorist."--Edinb. Rev. xix. 485.
 _I.e._ not bearing a braggart inscription, but
putting confidence in his own valor. [Greek: ou] was
rightly thrown out by Erfurdt. See Paley.
 _I.e._ from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus.
 Eteoclus and the figure on his
 Like a Bacchic devotee. See Virg. Æn. IV. 301, sqq.
So in the Agamemnon, v. 477.
[Greek: martyrei de moi kasis
pêlou xynouros, dipsia konis, tade].
 Cf. Ag. 174. [Greek: Zêna de tis epinikia klazôn,
Teuxetai phrenôn to pan]. Dindorf would omit all the
following lines. There is some difficulty about the sense
of [Greek: prosphileia], which I think Pauw best explains
as meaning "such is the god that respectively befriends
each of these champions."
 Cf. Apollon. Rhod. I. 466, [Greek: Istô nyn dory
thouron hotô periôsion allôn kydos eni ptolemoisin
aeiromai, oude m' ophellei Zeus toson, hossation per emon
dory]. Statius Theb. ix. 649--"ades o mihi dextera tantum
Tu præsens bellis, et inevitable numen, Te voco, te solam
superum contemptor adoro." See Cerda on Virg. Æn. X. 773.
 So Catullus, iii. 4, 5.
Passer, deliciæ meæ puellæ,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
And Vathek, p. 124 (of the English version), "Nouronihar
loved her cousin more than her own beautiful eyes."--OLD
TRANSLATOR. See Valcken. on Theocrit. xi. 53.
 A pun upon the word [Greek: parthenos] in the
composition of Parthenopæus's name.
 The figure on the shield is undoubtedly the one
 _I.e._ "he will fight by wholesale." See comm.
Perhaps the English phrase to "deal a blow," to "lend a
blow," is the nearest approximation to this curious idiom.
Boyes quotes some neat illustrations.
 This passage is a fair instance of the impossibility
of construing certain portions of Æschylus as they are
edited. Dindorf in his notes approves of Dobree's
emendation, [Greek: kai ton son aut' adelphou es patros
moron Exyptiazôn onoma], and so Paley, except that he
reads [Greek: omma] with Schutz, and renders it "_oculo in
patrio OEdipi fatum religiose sublato_." Blomfield's
[Greek: prosmolôn homosporon] seems simpler, and in better
taste. [Greek: homosporon] was doubtless obliterated by the
gloss [Greek: adelpheon] (an Ionic form ill suited to the
senarius), and the [Greek: homoioteleuton] caused the
remainder of the error. Burges first proposed [Greek:
homosporon] in Troad. Append. p. 134, D. As to Paley's idea
that OEdipus' death was caused "_per contentiorim filii
indolem_," I can not find either authority for the fact,
or reason for its mention here, and I have therefore
followed Blomfield. Dindorf's translation I can not
understand. The explanations of [Greek: exyptiazôn onoma]
are amusing, and that is all.
 _I.e._ saying [Greek: Polyneikes polyneikes]. Paley
ingeniously remarks that [Greek: endateisthai] is here
used in a double sense, both of _dividing_ and
_reproaching_. See his note, and cf. Phoen. 636. [Greek:
alêthôs onoma Polyneikê patêr etheto soi theia, pronoia,
 See Griffiths.
 Porson, and all the subsequent editors have
bracketed this verse, as spurious, but the chief objection
to this sense of [Greek: karpizesthai] seems to be
obviated by Paley. See his note.
 Either with [Greek: palin] or [Greek: polin] there
is much difficulty, as without an epithet [Greek: polis]
seems harshly applied to Hades. Paley thinks that [Greek:
tên makran] refers both to [Greek: pompên] and [Greek:
polin]. Dindorf adopts his usual plan when a difficulty
occurs, and proposes to omit the line. Fritzsche truly
said of this learned critic, that if he had the privilege
of omitting every thing he could not understand, the plays
of the Grecian dramatists would speedily be reduced to a
collection of fragments.
 When the spear was not in use, it was held in the
left hand, under the shield. See Blomfield.
 Sc. king, or victor. Blomfield adopts the former.
 This passage is not satisfactory. Paley reads
[Greek: andrêlatôn], but I am doubtful about [Greek: tôs
... tonde ... tropon].
 In the original there is, perhaps, a slight mixture
of construction, [Greek: haimatos] partly depending upon
[Greek: karpos] implied in [Greek: pikrokarpon], and
partly upon [Greek: androktasian], [Greek: androkt..
haim.] being _the slaughter of a man, by which his blood
 Wellauer: _denuntians lucrum, quod prius erit morte
posteriore_: _i.e._ victoriam quam sequetur mors. And so
Griffiths and Paley.
 Shakespeare uses this name in the opening speech of
King Henry, in part I.:
No more the thirsty Erinnys of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood.
 See above, v. 383.
 Somewhat to the same effect is the dream of Atossa
in the Persæ.
 I prefer Blomfield's transposition to Dindorf's
correction, [Greek: blapsiphronôs], which, though
repudiated in the notes, is still adopted by Paley.
 A noble impersonation of the sword.
 Shakespeare, King John, Act 4, sc. 2:
That blood, which own'd the breadth of all this isle,
Three foot of it doth hold.
King Henry IV. part I. Act 5, sc. 5:
Fare thee well, great heart!
Ill-weav'd ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now, two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough.
 Surely the full stop after [Greek: polin] in v. 749
should be removed, and a colon, or mark of hyperbaton
substituted. On looking at Paley's edition, I find myself
 This is Griffiths' version of this awkward passage.
I should prefer reading [Greek: alkan] with Paley, from
one MS. So also Burges.
 See my note on Soph. Philoct. 708, ed. Bohn.
 This seems the best way of rendering the bold
periphrase, [Greek: ho polybotos aiôn brotôn]. See
 I follow Paley. Dindorf, in his notes, agrees in
reading [Greek: trophas], but the metre seems to require
[Greek: epikotos]. Griffiths defends the common reading,
but against the ancient authority of the schol. on OEd.
Col. 1375. See Blomfield.
 Blomfield with reason thinks that a verse has been
 The care which the Messenger takes to show the
bright side of the picture first, reminds us of
Northumberland's speech, Shakespeare, King Henry IV. part
II. Act 1, sc. 1:
This thou would'st say--Your son did thus and thus;
Your brother, thus; so fought the noble Douglas;
Stopping my greedy ear with their bold deeds;
But in the end, to stop mine ear indeed,
Thou hast a sigh to blow away this praise,
Ending with--brother, son, and all are dead.
 This is a good example of the figure chiasmus, the
force of which I have expressed by the bracketed words
repeated from the two infinities. See Latin examples in
the notes of Arntzenius on Mamertin. Geneth. 8, p. 27;
Pang. Vett. t. i.
 The Messenger retires to dress for the Herald's
Horace's rule, "Nec quarta loqui persona laboret," seems
to have been drawn from the practice of the Greek stage.
Only three actors were allowed to each of the
competitor-dramatists, and these were assigned to them by
lot. (Hesychius, [Greek: Nemêsis hypokritôn].) Thus, for
instance, as is remarked by a writer in the Quarterly
Review, in the OEdipus at Colonus, v. 509, Ismene goes
to offer sacrifice, and, after about forty lines, returns
in the character of Theseus. Soon afterward, v. 847,
Antigone is carried off by Creon's attendants, and returns
as Theseus after about the same interval as before.--OLD
TRANSLATION. The translator had misquoted the gloss of
 This is the tragic account. See Soph. Antig. 170,
sqq.; Eurip. Phæn. 757, sqq. But other authors mention
descendants of both.
 Another pun on [Greek: Polyneikês].
 Cf. Romeo and Juliet, Act 4, sec. 3:
"I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins."
 This passage is confessedly corrupt. Paley seems to
have rightly restored [Greek: astolon] from the [Greek:
astolon theôrida] in Robertelli's edition. This ship, as
he remarks, would truly be [Greek: astolos], in opposition
to the one sent to Delphi, which was properly said [Greek:
stellesthai epi theôrian]. The words [Greek: astibê
Apollôni] confirm this opinion. In regard to the allusions,
see Stanley and Blomfield, also Wyttenbach on Plato
Phædon. sub. init.
 This repetition of [Greek: di' hôn] is not altogether
otiose. Their contention for estate was the cause both of
their being [Greek: ainomoroi] and of the [Greek: neikos]
 _I.e._ the sword. Cf. v. 885.
 This epithet applied to their ancestral tombs
doubtless alludes to the violent deaths of Laïus and
 On the enallage [Greek: sômati] for [Greek: sômasi]
see Griffiths. The poet means to say that this will be all
their possession after death. Still Blomfield's reading,
[Greek: chômati], seems more elegant and satisfactory.
 Pauw remarks that Polynices is the chief subject of
Antigone's mourning, while Ismene bewails Eteocles. This
may illustrate much of the following dialogue, as well as
explain whence Sophocles derived his master-piece of
character, the Theban martyr-heroine, Antigone.
 Throughout this scene I have followed Dindorf's
text, although many improvements have been made in the
disposition of the dramatis personæ. Every one will
confess that the length of [Greek: iô iô] commonplaces in
this scene would be much against the play, but for the
animated conclusion, a conclusion, however, that must lose
all its finest interest to the reader who is unacquainted
with the Antigone of Sophocles!
 Wellauer (not Scholfield, as Griffiths says) defends
the common reading from Herodot. V. 49.
 [Greek: trachyne] But T. Burgess' emendation [Greek:
trachys ge] seems better, and is approved by Blomfield.
 Soph. Ant. 44. [Greek: ê gar noeis thaptein sph'
 I have taken Griffiths' translation of what Dindorf
rightly calls "lectio vitiosa," and of stuff that no sane
person can believe came from the hand of Æschylus. Paley,
who has often seen the truth where all others have failed,
ingeniously supposes that [Greek: ou] is a mistaken
insertion, and, omitting it, takes [Greek: diatetimêtai]
in this sense: "_jam hic non amplius a diis honoratur;
ergo ego eum honorabo._" See his highly satisfactory note,
to which I will only add that the reasoning of the
Antigone of Sophocles, vss. 515, sqq. gives ample
confirmation to his view of this passage.
 Blomfield would either omit this verse, or assign it
to the chorus.
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